High-speed police chase ends in crash

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An 18-year-old Bradenton man crashed a stolen SUV into a palm tree after leading police on a high-speed chase through Holmes Beach and across the Anna Maria Island Bridge.

Holmes Beach police arrested Jeffrey T. Clarke Feb. 17 in an allegedly stolen 2013 gold Cadillac at Flamingo Drive and Manatee Avenue, where he failed to negotiate a left turn.

Police clocked Clarke’s speed in excess of 100 mph at various points during the chase.

As he drove the SUV east on Manatee Avenue, police reports say Clarke almost struck several vehicles head-on trying to pass oncoming traffic on the bridge.

Clarke was transported to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, where he was treated for injuries, which were not life-threatening, according to reports. He was later booked at the Manatee County jail.

Three passengers in the SUV were unharmed and released at the scene, according to Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer.

One passenger was 16 years old, the reports state.

HBPD arrested Clarke for fleeing to elude law enforcement, grand theft, child abuse and driving without a license.

The owner of the stolen vehicle responded to the scene and told police the keys had been stolen Feb. 16 from her husband’s vehicle.

The chase began at 10:55 p.m. after HBPD Officer Alan Bores, traveling east and operating mobile radar in the 700 block of Manatee, observed the gold Cadillac traveling west 53 mph in a 35-mph zone. He reported the vehicle had its high beams on.

Bores activated his emergency lights in the 600 block and observed the van accelerate and run the red light at the intersection of Gulf Drive and Manatee Avenues, the reports state.

He followed the SUV southbound on Gulf Drive, activating his sirens in the 3800 block.

Clarke then turned north on East Bay Drive, ran a red light at Gulf Drive and fled east on Manatee Avenue, reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph on the bridge.

The high-speed chase continued as Clarke turned north on 81st Street West, east on Second Avenue to 77th Street West and back westbound on Manatee Avenue, until he failed to negotiate the turn on Flamingo Drive, according to police reports.

The vehicle was totaled.

During the chase, Bores learned the vehicle was reported stolen out of Manatee County from a dispatcher.

In addition to the other charges, Clarke was ticketed for speeding, passing in a no-passing zone, driving with high beams on and running red lights.

He was assigned $15,620 in bonds and remained in the Manatee County jail at press time.

Clarke’s arraignment is set at 9 a.m. March 23 in the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

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