Florida: 4 Teens Killed In Car Crash In Stolen SUV, Following High-Speed Chase

(Alachua County Fire Rescue)
(Photo via: Alachua County Fire Rescue)

OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
11:28 AM – Monday, April 29, 2024

Four teenagers in Florida lost their lives in a police chase after the officers used a particular tactic that is meant to stop a vehicle, however, something went wrong and the car spun out of control.


A high-speed police pursuit took the lives of four Florida teenagers, including “a star football player,” after their vehicle lost control, overturned, and wrapped around a utility pole, according to the authorities.

Police say that the deadly pursuit occurred on April 20th, when officers were first alerted about a stolen Honda CRV. After hearing police sirens, the car drove the other direction at around 111 mph.

The four teenage students, ages 14 to 16, reportedly went to Newberry High School in Bradford County, which is northeast of Gainesville. Two of the teenagers have been identified as Lawrence McClendon Jr., a sophomore defensive back for the high school football team, and Jabril Cheevers, a student at the high school.

Two of the teens in the automobile died at the scene in the Waldo area, while the other two died a few days later at UF Health Shands Hospital from their injuries.

Following a complaint that a SUV had been stolen from Gainesville, the police found and pursued the vehicle. A license plate scanner had discovered the automobile just hours after it was stolen.

After confirming that multiple individuals were inside the car, deputies made an attempt to pull it over. The car appeared to be slowing down, but the driver suddenly stepped on the gas and accelerated, causing the vehicle to reach 111 mph.

Due to an internal feature that keeps them from accelerating too quickly, police patrol cars were “unable to keep up with the car.”

“We confirmed with the Gainesville Police Department that they still had that car entered as stolen, and the officer waited until he had three backup units with him before he initiated the traffic stop,” Bradford County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Brad Smith said, according to the Main Street Daily News. “They did start to pull over on the shoulder of the road, but before they came to a complete stop, they accelerated again, and that is when the chase was on.” 

“The [Florida] Highway Patrol was, at that point, the only vehicle that could actually keep up with them,” Smith said. “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.”

The Florida Highway Patrol was notified at that point, and a trooper carried on the pursuit. The officer then used a Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) to ram the side of the vehicle. The SUV rolled over as a result, crashing into a cement post.

The trooper who joined in on the chase had reportedly observed that some of the occupants “appeared to be wearing ski masks,” according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

“The Trooper made intentional contact with the Honda, causing it to decelerate,” the Highway Patrol said in a statement. “The Trooper used the break in speed to perform a PIT maneuver on the fleeing Honda to stop the threat created by the fleeing suspect. The Honda subsequently rolled over before making contact with a cement pole.” 

The McClendon family has established a GoFundMe page to assist with funeral costs.

“It’s concerning when you have so many deaths back to back, but all we can do as a community is wrap our arms around each other, love each other, ask ourselves what we need to be doing, and then do it,” Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe, who teaches at the high school, told the Main Street Daily News.

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