SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Two men are dead and another is in the hospital after a fiery two-car crash that happened in Osteen on Wednesday. Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said the fatal crash should never have happened.
According to the sheriff, a deputy was running a radar trap along State Road 415 that clocked 21-year-old Freddie Pleas, of Deltona, going 88 mph (141.62 km/h) in a 45 mph (72.42 km/h) zone. When his deputy tried pulling Pleas over, he said the driver hit the gas, reaching speeds of around 100 mph.
The sheriff said his deputy slowed down, turned off his lights and sirens, and reported the speeding car to dispatchers. Body camera video shows the deputy slowing down, nearly stopping, as he explains where the fleeing driver was heading. The deputy is then seen driving in the same direction, radio-ing that he has lost sight of the speeding car. Then, a short time later, he spots a fire up ahead.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Pleas was going nearly 100 mph when he crossed the centerline of the roadway and slammed head-on into a Mazda minivan. The 2014 four-door Chevrolet in which Pleas was traveling caught fire. Deputies said the innocent victim driving the minivan, James Marshall, was trying to get out of his car, but one of his ankles was badly injured, making it difficult for him to walk.
The deputy helped usher Marshall away from the danger. No one was moving in the suspect's car. Deputies smashed windows and cut the seatbelts to free Pleas and his passenger from their burning car. Sheriff Chitwood said his deputies did all they could to help everyone involved, but it was too late for the two young men in the suspect's car. Chitwood said his deputy followed policy and did not chase the suspect.
"When you look at the body camera video, you can see he decelerates, see where he comes to a complete stop, de-activates his lights and sirens," Chitwood explained.
Marshall was taken to Central Florida Regional Medical Center where he had surgery on his ankle on Thursday afternoon. His mother said he also fractured a few ribs. She said she is just thankful he survived the fiery crash.