TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A deputy chasing a shoplifting suspect was seriously injured Thursday after he was struck by a vehicle on Florida Avenue in Tampa.
The driver was not at fault, authorities said, and neither speed nor impairment were factors in the crash.
Sheriff Chad Chronister said Deputy Leonard Stoll, 59, had been chasing one of two teen suspects that were accused of stealing $50 worth of household items from a Family Dollar store. The other suspect fled the store in a vehicle and eventually turned himself in.
“They were attempting to remove his book bag from him, where they believe he was concealing the items and he pushed off and ran towards Florida Avenue here,” said Chronister.
Chronister said Stoll followed the teen into the intersection of Florida Avenue and Fletcher Avenue, but did not see the passing vehicle and was hit so hard, he landed 30 feet away. The speed limit on that portion of the roadway is 45 mph.
“You can imagine the injuries that come along with being struck by a vehicle at least 45 miles per hour, the speed limit and by being thrown that distance,” said Chronister.
“As he entered the intersection, unfortunately being focused on apprehending the suspect, didn’t see a vehicle approaching from the north to the south and was struck by the car, by the motorist,” said Chronister.
Chronister said the deputy sustained extensive leg and arm injuries, as well as head injuries, but the extent of those injuries is unknown. Stoll is being treated at Tampa General Hospital and is expected to survive.
The suspect, age 14, was later detained. Chronister said he was on probation and had previous arrests for retail theft and aggravated robbery by sudden snatching. Chronister said the other suspect, age 15, also has a criminal history, which includes charges of burglary and criminal mischief.
Charges against the teens are pending, according to Chronister.
Stull joined the Sheriff’s office in 2007 after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for 21 years. After retiring from the Corps, Stull decided to join the Sheriff’s office where he served as a training deputy before becoming a detective.
“Our deputies are committed to protecting the public, and in this case, Detective Stoll put his duty to serve above his own safety,” said Chronister. “Caught in the moment, Detective Stoll crossed a busy intersection and was seriously injured. We are thankful he is alive and praying he finds strength in knowing our office and community are proud of his dedication. As for the suspects in this case, we hope they realize their actions have serious consequences and they are lucky no one was killed.”
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