Three teens dead in stolen car that crashed into St. Pete pond

- Three teenage girls were found dead inside a stolen vehicle that crashed into a retention pond in Pinellas County Thursday morning.

It was around 4 a.m. when the car crashed into the retention pond at a cemetery near Gandy Boulevard and Interstate 275.

The vehicle was seen driving recklessly early Thursday morning and deputies say it ran a red light.  But a traffic stop could not be conducted due to the vehicle's speed, investigators said.

"The vehicle appeared to be trying to get away from deputies," Sheriff Bob Gualtieri stated, adding that the car plowed into the pond at 35 mph.  "What we believe is that the driver thought that they could get to the interstate and then get away. But they accelerated and went into the pond."

PHOTOS: More from the scene

The car was pulled from the water, which was about 15 feet deep, and that's when investigators found the people inside.  None were wearing seat belts, and all were dead.

This afternoon, they were identified by police as: Dominique Battle, 16; Ashaunti Butler, 15; and Laniya Miller, 15. 

"All three of these girls have criminal histories for grand theft auto," Gualtieri added, calling the incident "frustrating."  

"Three young lives have been needlessly lost," he added.

Stay with FOX 13 for any updates.

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