JSO corrections recruit arrested, fired

19-year-old had been on job 1 week when he was charged in high-speed chase

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A corrections recruit with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was fired Monday after he was charged in connection with a short high-speed pursuit and a hit-and-run crash Saturday, Undersheriff Pat Ivey said.

Joshua Vergara, 19, is charged with fleeing and attempting to elude police, reckless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident.

He had been a corrections recruit for one week. His first day was Jan. 30.

Ivey said that about 3 p.m. Saturday, Vergara blew past a patrol car in the area of Baymeadows Road and Southside Boulevard, and the officer attempt to pull Vergara over for speeding.

Ivey said Vergara instead continued driving at a high speed and ran a red light with “total disregard for other vehicles on the road.”

According to the arrest report, when Vergara drove through the red light, other drivers had to brake abruptly to avoid hitting him. Later he turned on Princeton Square Boulevard and "barely squeezed through other vehicles without crashing," the report said.

Because of the traffic in the area, the officer broke off the pursuit and put out a BOLO for Vergara's BMW. The officer from the pursuit was later flagged down by a driver who said he'd been involved in a hit-and-run crash with a car matching the description of Vergara's car.

Later, different officers responded after residents in the Royal Lake Drive area called in a report of a burglary. They had seen Vergara crouching in the bushes near a home and when they confronted him, he said he had been jogging and had gotten sick, Ivey said. The residents called police, and Vergara tried to run away but was spotted by an officer and detained, Ivey said.

Vergara told the officers a similar story, but elements of the story didn't add up, Ivey said. Eventually Vergara gave the officers a description of his car, which matched the BOLO, and he was arrested.

Because he was still in his probationary period, Vergara was fired from JSO Monday and has no recourse to appeal the termination, Ivey said.

Ivey said Vergara was the 13th JSO employee arrested since he became undersheriff. He said the department has had 90 suspensions since July 2015.

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