DELAND, Fla. — A 26-year-old Lake Helen man who was stopped by police after following his girlfriend in a taxi cab died in a crash after fleeing from the traffic stop, the DeLand Police Department said.
Shortly before 3 a.m., a taxi driver called police to report that the boyfriend of a woman who was riding in his cab was following them in an SUV, DeLand police Sgt. Chris Estes said.
“The driver was in the process of driving the woman to Florida Hospital DeLand, and there were indications of some type of disturbance,” Estes said.
Officer Tony Tagle, who was sent to investigate the report, spotted the taxi and the SUV that was trailing it at West Plymouth Avenue and North Woodland Boulevard, officials said.
Tagle pulled over the woman’s boyfriend, Justin L. Johnson, who acknowledged that he was arguing with his girlfriend, Estes said.
The officer spotted what he believed to be drugs, so he asked Johnson to exit the vehicle, investigators said.
Police said Tagle was assisting Johnson out of the vehicle when he started the engine and closed the SUV’s door, trapping the officer’s hand.
Watch raw footage of the crash scene below:
“He was then dragged several feet before freeing himself,” Estes said. “The officer suffered an injury to his left hand. The vehicle sped away.”
Another DeLand police officer who was responding to the fleeing suspect then spotted an SUV that had crashed and caught fire near North Stone Street and West New York Avenue, investigators said.
“It was the determined the driver, and a dog, had died in the crash,” Estes said. “The vehicle was determined to be the same that fled from Officer Tagle.”
A man heard the loud crash as he slept in his home.
“I ran out my door, saw what was left of a vehicle,” said John Ward. “There was nothing I could do for the driver, but there was nothing I could do for the dog either.”
A woman who saw the crash said the SUV flipped on its side.
“He was coming down Stone Street and they said he was going so fast, he actually went airborne as he went over New York Avenue,” said Michelle Nemoto.
Tagle went to a hospital to have his hand treated and was released.
The crash continues to be investigated.
No other details were given.
Hear from a witness who tried to help below:
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