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Police: Driver arrested after JTB crash

JSO: Officer spots erratic driver in Riverside; Same driver crashes, flees scene

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Officers arrested a man they believe may have crashed into a wooded area on J. Turner Butler Boulevard and Interstate 95 after driving erratically, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Police said an officer spotted a car driving erratically in the Riverside area about 4 a.m. after they received a 911 call.

They said someone told 911 there was a tall man in a black car with the light, and he revved the engine, got out, dropped his pants and turned on East Selma Street.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Thomas Burr
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Thomas Burr

"A couple units were dispatched to Willow Branch Avenue and Selma Street regarding a suspicious vehicle," said Sgt. Shannon Hartley. "About the time they arrived, they observed the vehicle had some very erratic driving patterns."

The officers attempted to stop the vehicle because they said the driver was driving recklessly and the car had an expired license plate, but the vehicle fled. The officers then began a high-speed chase, Hartley said.

Police identified the driver as 26-year-old Thomas Burr (pictured).

"At some point as they were coming down I-95, they stopped, realizing the situation was very dangerous," Hartley said. "The desire to catch the criminal was outweighed by the danger that the continued pursuit has on the community. They felt at that point they'd reached that threshold. We had the information and felt we had what we needed to identify the suspect at a later time."

About 15-20 minutes later, a call was made to 911 about the same car crashing in a wooded area along Butler Boulevard eastbound at I-95.

"(He) crashed into some trees. The vehicle did catch on fire," Hartley said. "We had a temporary road closure. (The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department) responded, was able to put out the fire."

Thomas Burr is taken into custody.
Thomas Burr is taken into custody.

When officers arrived to the crash scene, they realized that the driver had fled on foot.

"We searched the area very thoroughly," Hartley said. "JFRD was able to use thermal imaging. We used K-9s."

Before 6 a.m., Burr was seen running across the interstate and was taken into custody by officers, police said.

He was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

"There certainly were signs that the driver could have been impaired, but that's part of the ongoing investigation," Hartley said.

Burr has had a suspended license since May 2013, and has unpaid traffic tickets. He is charged in the crash with violation of probation, DUI, causing damage to property, driving with a suspended license and fleeing from law enforcement. Burr also has three previous arrests.

Officers were relieved the situation wasn't worse.

"Fortunately the roadways were very clear at the time; there wasn't much traffic," Hartley said. "And as always, we're very fortunate that no additional injuries occurred as a result of the driver's actions."