Police: 4 Florida Teens Killed in Stolen Car Crash After High-Speed Police Chase

Car Crash Pinellas County (1)
Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

Four Florida teens were killed after leading police on a high-speed chase in a stolen car that ended when state troopers used the precision immobilization technique (PIT) maneuver.

A group of males aged 14-17 were in an SUV that had been reported stolen hours earlier on April 20 when a Bradford County sheriff’s deputy saw them and called for backup, the Daily Mail reported.

Deputies confirmed that there were multiple passengers in the vehicle and attempted to pull it over, but the driver raced away at speeds reaching 111 mph. 

“They did start to pull over on the shoulder of the road, but before they came to a complete stop, they accelerated again, and that is when the chase was on,” said Col. Brad Smith, chief deputy of the sheriff’s office.

Once the SUV crossed over the county line, the Bradford deputies were unable to keep up. 

“The [Florida] Highway Patrol was, at that point, the only vehicle that could actually keep up with them,” Smith said. “Our vehicles cannot match the speed that they were going, but we did continue one of our units to try and stay as close as they could as a backup unit to FHP until Alachua County’s units were able to catch up to them.”

As the chase continued, a Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) trooper used the controversial PIT maneuver to try to stop “the threat created by the fleeing suspect” — causing it to roll over and crash into a cement pole in the Waldo area. 

“The Trooper made intentional contact with the Honda, causing it to decelerate,” FHP said in a statement obtained by the outlet.

While two out of the four teens survived the impact, they died of their injuries days later at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

It took over an hour and a half for emergency crews to remove all of the victims from the wreckage, according to WCJB

Some of the vehicle’s occupants were reportedly wearing ski masks. 

Authorities later said that two of the boys killed in the crash were wearing ankle tracking devices, and three of them had active warrants.

Jabril Cheevers and Lawrence McClendon Jr. were later identified as students at the nearby Newberry High School.

“It is with great sadness that I share the two Newberry High School students who were in the serious car accident this past weekend have now passed away from their injuries,” Principal James Sheppard wrote in a message to parents, viewed by the Daily Mail. “Thank you for keeping both of these families in your thoughts during this difficult time.”

Head football coach Ed Johnson said, “Lawrence was a great kid to be around and have in our program.”

“As a football player he was competitive, talented and relentless, with a knack for making big plays. He will be truly missed by everyone in the Panther football family,” he added.

Lawrence’s mother, LaToya McClendon, organized a GoFundMe to raise money for funeral costs, saying her son’s life was “tragically cut short.”

“We lost our oldest son exactly one month prior and buried him three weeks ago. As you can imagine we as a family are DEVASTATED,” the grieving mother wrote. 

“We are prayfully asking for help in burying our child. We realize times are rough for everyone, and we are so grateful for any donation. Prayers are most definitely appreciated as well!”

McClendon’s older son, Jermaine Godbolt Jr., 18, was gunned down in Newberry in late March, WCJB reported. Police are still searching for the person or people responsible. 

In 2020, the mother was arrested for another vehicle-related incident after allegedly using her car to strike two people — including a 15-year-old girl who said the mirror of LaToya McClendon’s car hit her — during a large brawl in an Alachua park.


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