Police chase ends in deadly crash

1 dead; 2 others transported to UF Health with serious injuries

PALATKA, Fla. – A 20-year-old man died in a high-speed police chase just after 10:30 p.m. Saturday in downtown Palatka. His passenger and the driver of another car are in the hospital with serious injuries.

The Florida Highway Patrol says Romeo Roddrick Staples 

was attempting to flee from Putnam County sheriff's officers. He was driving west on St. Johns Avenue, just west of North Palm Avenue, when the vehicle he was driving, a Nissan Pathfinder, crossed over into the eastbound lane and crashed into a black 1997 Mercedes.


Staples (pictured), of Palatka, died at the scene.

The driver of the Mercedes, 18-year-old Arthur Young, and the passenger in the Nissan Pathfinder were taken to UF Health in Gainesville by a helicopter. Both are in serious condition.

The Putnam County Sheriff's Office said Staples was driving a stolen car at the time of the pursuit and crash. Police say Staples was wearing a bandana covering his face and gloves at the time of the crash. Investigators say it's unclear if Staples had committed a previous crime or was preparing to commit a crime. 

A search of court records shows Staples had a criminal past dating back to 2003. He had numerous arrests for larceny and burglary. In the past he was also arrested for fraud and damage to property-criminal mischief.