Pinellas County

Deputies identify man killed in high-speed crash in St. Pete, suspect suffers minor injuries

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) - Pinellas County investigators said Donald Young, 56, was killed after a speeding driver blew through several red lights and t-boned his car at an intersection in St. Petersburg. 

Young's family told News Channel 8 that he was a loving grandfather who was on his way to work and that it was his dream to live in Florida. 

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that John Owa, 28, drove through three other red lights on 49th Street before the deadly crash, which happened at 4:15 a.m. at the intersection of 49th Street North and 5th Avenue North.

Gualtieri said that Owa was trying to get away from deputies because he was "scared."

A deputy first spotted the car Owa was driving at 22nd Avenue South and 22nd Street in St. Petersburg.

The deputy ran the tag on the car and discovered that it was registered to Owa and he had a suspended driver’s license.

The deputy turned on his lights and tried to pull Owa over, but Owa did not stop and sped away onto 22nd Avenue South.

The sheriff said the deputy turned off his lights and pulled back. 

Undercover detectives in the area monitored Owa as he drove at a low speed in residential areas in the Child’s Park neighborhood. At some point, Owa started driving faster and hit a curb, blowing out the right front tire.

Gualtieri said Owa then drove north on 49th Street and accelerated. Deputies estimated he was driving about 70 mph and drove through four red lights, possibly with his headlights turned off. 

The sheriff insisted that deputies stayed well behind Owa without lights and sirens and were not chasing him. Gualtieri couldn't say for sure whether Owa knew he was being followed. 

The sheriff said a witness heard Owa accelerate prior to the crash. 

Young's black Mustang was driving eastbound on 5th Avenue North, which had a green light. Gualtieri said Owa ran a red light and hit the passenger side of the Mustang in the middle of the intersection.

Young was pronounced dead at the hospital, Gualtieri said. 

Owa suffered minor injuries in the crash. He was taken into custody. 

The intersection of 49th Street North and 5th Avenue North was shutdown for 12 hours as deputies investigated the crash. 

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