TAMPA (FOX 13) - A teenager just released from the Polk County Juvenile Detention Center led authorities on a multi-county chase in a stolen DCF worker's car Monday, before crashing on Interstate 4 in Tampa.
According to the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the juvenile just released from the detention facility was meeting with a worker from the Department of Children and Families on Sunday. The teenager asked to use the restroom but didn't return. Instead, he stole a worker's personal 2016 Nissan Rogue.
A Lakeland police officer spotted the vehicle near the area of Lavon Street and Kathleen Road and tried to stop the car, but the driver sped away. Law enforcement from several agencies chased the car onto I-4 West into Hillsborough County.
"A silver minivan was going about 100 miles an hour; ran me off into the median," a witness told FOX 13. "When he got into Tampa there was nowhere for him to go."
The driver got to the 50th Street exit and, while attempting to change lanes, lost control and slammed into a work van for an air conditioner company.
"[The suspect] jumped over the bridge over here about 20 feet," the witness continued. "You can see his footprints over there where he jumped over the bridge and they threw the dog over and the dog got him around the corner."
Police said the driver got out of the stolen vehicle and tried to run away and ended up at the Skatepark of Tampa on Columbus Drive, but a Lakeland police dog quickly tracked him down hiding under the business's front deck.
"They were first looking in the A/C units, they realized that he was under the deck, so they went around and they let the dogs underneath and he was hiding underneath the deck right here," said Zac Marquis, who works at the skate park. "We locked up the shop and everything, so they were all safe and secure. That was our most important priority during all of that."
Police arrested the driver who, according to Marquis, was shirtless and in socks, along with four passengers were taken to the hospital. The names, ages and charges for those involved have not yet been released.