JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man charged in a dramatic series of events including a kidnapping, a police chase and a crash in a stolen undercover cruiser has died in the hospital, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.
Matthew Bennett, 35, of Jacksonville Beach, is accused of kidnapping a good Samaritan who stopped to help him after a crash Wednesday afternoon. The good Samaritan, a woman, stopped at the wreck on J. Turner Butler Boulevard. Investigators say Bennett jumped into her car and sped off.
It was the beginning of a wild rampage that spanned two counties.
According to the Sheriff's Office, Bennett, 35, was covered in blood when a deputy spotted the driver and tried to apprehend him near State Road 16 and I-95.
"The subject was covered in blood. Fresh blood," said Chuck Mulligan with the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office. "This started out as a reckless driver call, something we go to 30 to 40 times a week."
Things escalated quickly. The Sheriff's Office said a deputy was trying to arrest him, when another good Samaritan on a motorcycle attempted to assist the deputy. Moments later, an off-duty deputy in an unmarked patrol cruiser stopped and tried to help.
Bennett, the Sheriff's Office said, was able to break free, get into the undercover cruiser and head south on I-95.
"They were attempting to get him back out of the car," Mulligan said. "You can see there were individuals pulling folks out of the way because they were about to be run over."
Investigators found a 33-year-old woman inside the car deputies said Bennett was driving before he took off in the cruiser. They said she had Bennett's blood on her.
A report from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office shows she had been kidnapped near J. Turner Butler and Hodges boulevards after stopping to help when Bennett crashed into a wall. Investigators said despite having a gash in his head, he hopped into her car and sped off. The woman was not injured.
After the man took the undercover cruiser, deputies gave chase. The pursuit came to a screeching halt on I-95 near State Road 206 when a pursuing deputy performed a PIT maneuver.
"Fortunately, none of our deputies were hurt," Mulligan said.
The woman who was kidnapped told News4Jax she did what she thought was right. She did not wish to comment further.