Driver charged with 7 hit-and-run crashes in 1 night

- A driver accused of going on a roadway rampage that included seven hit-and-run crashes between  Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties and a carjacking made his first court appearance Monday.

Florida Highway Patrol said Lon Brown, 43, begin his string of terror Saturday night when he hit five  cars in separate crashes on I-275 North in Pinellas County to the Howard Frankland Bridge and kept  driving.

After crossing into Tampa, Brown hit a sixth vehicle. Tampa Police and FHP said a woman in the other  car pulled over and got out, thinking she was going to exchange information with Brown when he hit  her with a pipe and stole her car.

Brown continued onto the Veteran's Expressway where he hit a seventh and final vehicle -- an enormous  pickup truck driven by Cristina Pante's fiancé.

"Out of nowhere, we just got hit. I mean, our car went sideways immediately," Pante said. "It was so  loud, so scary. My fiancé held onto the wheel so tight. He really saved our lives because if we were  in any other truck or smaller car, we would have flipped."

Once again, Brown kept driving a short distance as Pante's fiancé pulled over. By then, troopers and  police were looking for Brown.

"We pulled over, we ran all the way up to the other vehicle, by that time the police were already  there, had him in handcuffs," Pante said, adding the whole ordeal was terrifying. "He could have  really killed us or somebody else and, again, I'm thankful that my daughter wasn't in the car because  I'm afraid how hurt she would be."

FHP spokesperson Sgt. Steve Gaskins said it's fortunate Brown didn't kill anyone.

"This kind of behavior can't be tolerated on Florida highways and we're very glad that he was of  course apprehended and taken off the road before actually someone really got seriously hurt," he  said.

In court Monday, prosecutors told the judge Brown has been convicted two DUI's, the most recent in  2006. He was, however, driving on a valid license.

Brown is now facing a series of charges including carjacking, grand theft auto, aggravated battery,  DUI and leaving the scene of several crashes. His bond was set at $58,750.

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