WINTER SPRINGS, Fla. — Seminole County investigators said a man stole a charity's van and then crashed it as he tried to get away.
Law enforcement crews searched most of the day Tuesday inside the Avery Park subdivision in Winter Springs looking for him.
Deputies said they found and arrested the man, but they have not released his name or said how he was caught.
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The people who had their van stolen said it was totaled in a crash caused by the thief. Now, they need help to replace it, so they can continue helping others.
Just before 10:30 a.m., Ignacio Gonzales and his son pulled their Mission Compassion van into a mobile gas station on Red Bug Lake Road.
"We got a call that someone stole the food bank and the school's van," said Stephanie Gonzalez. "My dad was going into the gas station and there was a man asking for money and my dad said ‘No, I don't have cash.' And that same guy took the car and my dad tried to chase him and the guy left."
Witnesses said the suspect drove the stolen van down Tuskawilla Road towards State Road 434.
"This car was just driving erratically and just weaving in and out of cars, and he immediately said. 'I think this car is stolen,'" said witness Megan Sauer.
Another witness, Janice Medland, said, "We witnessed a van traveling northbound making a left turn in front of the Toyota and had just turned right in front of him head-on. Toyota slammed right into him."
The van got hit so hard, it landed in a median and took out a flagpole and gate controls to the Avery Park subdivision.
Winter Springs police and Seminole County Sheriff's deputies searched the subdivision from the air and from the ground with K-9 dogs. Three and a half hours later, the suspect was caught.
The charity's van is totaled, one man's actions have left them in need.
"So we can't get food. We get food from different places, and we can't take kids home or to school because most of them the parents don't have a car," Gonzalez said. "It's frustrating because we really do try to help the community and give food to people in need."
A GoFundMe account has been set up
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