PALM HARBOR (FOX 13) - The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said three juveniles died in a crash involving a stolen vehicle early Sunday morning. The crash happened shortly before 5 a.m. at U.S. Highway 19 and Tampa Road.
According to the Sheriff's Office, deputies spotted two cars that were recently stolen from a Clearwater car dealership driving together into the East Lake Woodlands neighborhood.
The Sheriff's Office set up a perimeter but was initially unable to locate the vehicles. Shortly after, a deputy spotted both of them, a Ford Explorer and Chrysler Sebring, traveling on Tampa Road.
"The vehicles were engaged in what I'll characterize as a 'cat and mouse game.' They were accelerating fast, slowing down, accelerating, slowing down," Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said during a press conference. "They got to Lake St. George and at the intersection on Tampa Road, the Sebring slowed down considerably. The Explorer sped up considerably, probably at speeds that exceed well over 100 miles per hour."
At that point, Gualtieri said the deputy turned around and did not pursue the Explorer, which continued westbound at a high rate of speed. When the SUV got to the intersection of U.S. 19, it struck a car that was traveling northbound.
The impact of the crash caused the Explorer to go airborne, hit several parked cars, roll multiple times and catch fire. Three occupants were pronounced deceased at the scene. They have been identified as 16-year-old Keontae Brown, 14-year-old Jimmie Goshey and 16-year-old Dejarae Thomas.
A fourth juvenile was taken to the hospital with unknown injuries. He was identified as 14-year-old Keondrae Brown.
The stolen Sebring was later located in Clearwater and two suspects, 18-year-old Kamal Campbell and 16-year-old Deyon Kaigler, were taken into custody. According to Gualtieri, all of the juveniles involved have extensive criminal histories, and one of them was released from the Department of Juvenile Justice on July 31. Both were charged with grand theft auto and resisting arrest.
"This is unfortunately a continuation of the prolific and epidemic incidents of juveniles engaging in the deadly game of auto burglaries and auto thefts that we've been seeing for the last 18 months or so," Gualtieri said.