‘An absolute tragedy’: Ocala officer injured during pursuit of driver involved in fatal hit & run

OCALA, Fla. — Two people were killed and a police officer was seriously injured in a series of crashes in Ocala Saturday night.


It all started just before 10:30 p.m. at the intersection of S. Pine Ave. and SW 17th St. where Ocala police officers were already investigating a previous crash.

According to the police department, another driver headed eastbound on SW 17th St. sped through the intersection, colliding with a pedestrian and a parked patrol car.

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The pedestrian was taken to the hospital and later died from their injuries. He was identified Sunday afternoon as 26-year-old James Thompson, Jr.

Police pursued the driver along SE Maricamp Rd. towards the First Baptist Church of Ocala where an officer was parked in the grass median, preparing to deploy stop-sticks.

According to police, in an apparently intentional act, the driver then collided head-on with the patrol car while the officer still sat in it.

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The officer was taken to the hospital and is currently in serious condition but stable.

The hit & run driver was also taken to the hospital and later died. He has been identified as 44-year-old Kristopher Kent Winningham.

“This is an absolute tragedy,” a statement from the Ocala Police Department said. “Our hearts break for a family who is now mourning the loss of a loved one, all because of one person’s reckless actions that also endangered the lives of our officers.”

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An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

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