A 15-year-old Florida youth died early Sunday after he and two teenage friends stole a silver Maserati for a high-speed joy ride, crashed it into a business sign and flipped, authorities said.
The surviving teenagers were critically injured in the pre-dawn crash in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The three friends swiped the unlocked luxury sports car from a driveway — its keys still in the ignition — around 3:30 a.m., Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said during a news conference.
The car was traveling at a high rate of speed without its headlights on before the driver lost control, jumped a curb and crashed, flipping over the 2016 silver model, Gualtieri said.
Mario Bonilla died at the scene, while Malachi Daniels, 16, was hospitalized in critical condition and was not expected to recover, police said. The driver, Keondrick Lang, 15, was also in critical condition but was expected to pull through.
“This is what happens when you’re an inexperienced driver at 3:30 in the morning going 80 miles an hour and you lose it,” Gualtieri said. “And unfortunately, one has lost his life, the other appears to be losing his life, and the other has some pretty serious injuries.”
Neither teenager had a driver’s license, he added.
Deputies in a helicopter spotted the stolen car while responding to another incident in the area; authorities on the ground tried to stop the teenagers, but they sped away, Gualtieri said.
The deputies in their vehicles did not chase after them and adhered to department policy, the sheriff said. Instead, the helicopter kept an eye on the fast luxury car, Gualtieri said.
“Once the deputies were disengaged, they didn’t slow down,” he said of the teenagers. “They just kept going at a high rate of speed.”
More information, including dashcam and helicopter footage, is expected to be released Tuesday.
The parents of the high school students thought their children were asleep when they snuck out in the middle of the night, Gualtieri said, adding that the parents were devastated by the news of the fatal incident.
“It’s a very sad situation,” Gualtieri said.
The three friends were stopped by police last month after they were seen walking around a residential neighborhood before dawn, dressed all in black and with their faces covered, the sheriff said. The boys’ parents were told about the incident, which was documented, before the teenagers went home, he added.