St. Johns County deputy seriously hurt in crash

Deputy was responding to report of woman being robbed

FRUIT COVE, Fla. - A St. Johns County deputy was seriously hurt Friday morning in a crash through a fence and into a tree.

Deputy Richard Thurmond, 35, was responding to a report of a woman being robbed at gunpoint when he crashed in the 1700 block of State Road 13, in front of San Juan Del Rio Catholic Church, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

Rescuers were called to the crash about 10:30 a.m. According to the Sheriff's Office, Thurmond was trapped in the vehicle for about 30 minutes but was able to be extricated and taken to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center in serious condition.

A second vehicle was also involved in the crash. The driver of that car, 53-year-old Stacey Pilinko, was taken to Baptist Medical Center South with serious injuries, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

IMAGES: Cruiser crash

State troopers said Thurmond was driving south on State Road 13 with his emergency lights and siren activated, and Pilinko was stopped in her car in front of the deputy waiting to turn left onto Scott Road. Troopers said Thurmond's cruiser struck the car in the rear, then drove through the right grass shoulder before striking the fence and a tree.

Principal Lou Pereira, of San Juan Del Rio Catholic Church and School, and parents rushed outside after they heard the deputy-involved crash to find Thurmond pinned inside his car.

"He really appeared to be struggling," Pereira said. "We could definitely tell that his leg, there was a problem with his leg. The parents rushed away and got him some water very quickly because he asked for water."

Deputies said three people involved in the robbery fled from a separate traffic crash near the area of County Road 208 and County Road 13. They were identified as Dustin Vann, 26, of Fort Lauderdale; Zachary Shull, 18, of Mississippi; and Samantha Lindsay, 18, of Idaho (pictured above).

Deputies said they tried to rob a woman walking her dog off Vintage Oak Circle, but when she told them she didn't have anything, they fled south on County Road 13 in a vehicle that had been stolen from South Florida. They fled on foot after crashing the vehicle in the area of County Road 208, deputies said. They said another victim reported his pickup truck stolen from the property on County Road 208.

Following a chase and search by deputies, one man and a woman were found in the woods, while another man was arrested at a convenience store at State Road 16 and Interstate 95, where deputies found the stolen truck.

The woman who they tried to rob was taken to a hospital for observation.

"I totally can't believe it. It doesn't surprise me in today's age, but I just can't believe it would be here in this neighborhood," resident Dick Ludwig said of the attempted robbery. "I think that I'll be totally aware when I come out my door. When I pull up, to make sure all my doors are locked, my house is locked, and, you know, just report suspicious activity."

Vann is charged with aggravated fleeing and attempting to elude, attempted armed robbery, grand theft auto, and violation of probation. Shull is charged with attempted armed robbery, and Lindsay is charged with principle to armed robbery.

The suspects are facing numerous additional felony charges out of South Florida as the investigation continues, deputies said.

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