4 Florida Teens Die in Stolen SUV Following PIT Maneuver

SKT Studio / shutterstock.com
SKT Studio / shutterstock.com

As the summer months are starting to heat up, the natives are getting restless (so to speak). Kids need to release their pent-up energy as the days get longer and warmer. In Florida, four teens ages 14-17 decided that stealing an SUV was the best way to get into the swing of summer. The teens drove around in the stolen vehicle for hours. A Bradford County officer eventually spotted and identified the vehicle.

The teens refused to stop. The officer radioed for backup immediately, and the chase was on. Reaching speeds over 110mph, they teased the officer by pulling to the shoulder, then hammering the accelerator and taking off once again. Confirming the presence of multiple passengers, the chase continued but ended at the county line as officers could not keep up.

Col. Brad Smith, Chief Deputy of the Sheriff’s Office, said, “The [Florida] Highway Patrol was, at that point, the only vehicle that could actually keep up with them. Our vehicles cannot match the speed that they were going, but we did continue one of our units to try and stay as close as they could as a backup unit to FHP until Alachua County’s units were able to catch up to them.”

As the danger of the chase increased, officers decided to perform a precision immobilization technique (PIT) maneuver in the hopes of stopping them and keeping the public safe. This caused the top-heavy vehicle to roll multiple times and crash into a cement pole. Two of the four boys initially survived the impact, but unfortunately, all succumbed to their injuries. The car had struck the pole with such force that it took over 90 minutes to extract them.

Some of the boys had chosen to wear ski masks for their activities. Three of them had active warrants, and more astonishingly, two also had ankle monitors. Lawrence McClendon Jr. was one of the teens and had evidence of a troubled upbringing. His older brother, Jermaine, had been shot dead back in March, and his mother, LaToya McClendon, was arrested back in 2020. Also a vehicular-based criminal, she used her car to hit two people during a brawl at a park.

It seems that some criminals need to remain in jail.