ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - A 15-year-old fleeing deputies crashed a stolen car into the Car Quest auto parts store near Crescent Beach early Friday morning, then St. Johns County Sheriff's Office deputies spent the day finding an even younger accomplice who fled in a second stolen car.
About 1:30 a.m., deputies received a 911 call from a woman who reported seeing two teenagers breaking into her car in the Cypress Lakes community.
The victim's son, Matthew Palmer, realized someone was breaking into her Dodge Caravan.
"At first I thought it was my mother, and so I started pressing the lock key to play around with her. Then we noticed it was another man getting inside the car," Palmer said.
The victim gave police a description of the two teenagers to help in the search.
The Cypress Lakes neighborhood only has one road in and out of the community off State Road 207. Deputies parked outside this entrance to question drivers matching the suspects. When they saw deputies saw two vehicles heading out of the neighborhood and they attempted to conduct traffic stops to determine if the drivers were involved in the burglary, both vehicles fled from officers -- one of which had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit.
"The deputy stepped in front of that car on foot and waved the vehicle down to stop," said SJCSO Commander Chuck Mulligan. "Instead of seeing brake lights come on or seeing a reduction in speed, what he heard was the engine rev up and the car accelerate in his direction. The deputy dove out of the way."
That driver in a 2002 Chrysler P.T. Cruiser was pursued east on S.R. 207. Deputies say at one point the driver slowed as they approached S.R. 312 and intentionally struck a patrol car and sped away.
The suspect soon crashed into the corner of the auto parts business in the 300 block of S.R. 207.
"I seen on the news that a car had drove through the building and didn't know really what had happened," said Kirk Wascher, manager of Car Quest. "We're lucky no one was hurt."
He was treated for minor injuries and released from Flagler Hospital before he was booked at the St. Johns County Jail and transferred to the Department of Juvenile Justice.
While police were pursuing the first suspect, other deputies remained in that neighborhood to search for the second suspect. They found another car matching the description and attempted to stop it. That car fled as well.
The second vehicle, a 2004 Ford Explorer stolen from a home in the neighborhood and driven by a 13-year-old, was last seen driving into a wooded area east of Golf Ridge Drive. Deputies drove into the hunting club and found the vehicle about a mile into the woods. The suspect had left the area on foot.
Late Friday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said the boy, Sergio Domario Morgan-Wideman, was arrested without incident and charged with grand theft auto.
The victim's son says this should serve as a warning to others in the neighborhood.
"I've warmed the people that I know in this neighborhood to make sure they lock up their cars," Palmer said.
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