Florida woman stopped from driving vehicle into 5K runners during race, police say

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A Florida woman is accused of attempting to drive her vehicle into the path of runners during a 5-kilometer race on Thursday, authorities said.

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Ashlee Lauren Morgan, 38, of St. Petersburg, was arrested and charged with two counts of felony fleeing and eluding, leaving the scene of a crash with property damage, reckless driving, and resisting an officer without violence, according to Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office online booking records.

Police said Morgan was traveling at about 60 mph in her 2019 Range Rover Velar toward the Coffee Pot Turkey Trot race in St. Petersburg, WTVT reported. According to the St. Petersburg Police Department, Morgan drove around officers and refused commands to stop.

Police said that Morgan drove past two marked patrol vehicles that had their emergency lights flashing, with several safety cones placed at the intersection, WFLA-TV reported.

The officers stopped Morgan before she drove onto the roadway, where nearly 3,000 runners were competing in the 5K race, according to WTVT.

“While under arrest, the defendant banged her head against the rear windows of the police cruiser, attempted to exit as her handcuffs were being adjusted, was combative, and OC Spray (oleoresin capsicum, or pepper spray) was utilized on two separate occasions in order to gain her compliance,” St. Petersburg police said in a statement.

According to an arrest affidavit, “If it were not for the officers at the intersection gaining the defendant’s attention, and forcing her to stop, she would have ignored all traffic safety obstacles strategically placed at the intersection, and barreled through the intersection causing mass casualty to race participants.”

According to the affidavit, there was no indication of alcohol or drug influence or mental health issues, WFLA reported.

“Our officers work these special events so that they can be there to avert potential problems,” St. Petersburg Police spokesperson Yolanda Fernandez told the television station. “In this case, several officers had to intervene to keep this driver from possibly harming the runners.”

Morgan was released from the Pinellas County Jail after posting $10,650 bail, online records show.