AUBURNDALE, Fla. - Alert residents in Auburndale helped Polk County Sheriff's deputies apprehend a pair of suspects involved in a four county high speed chase that was captured live on television via helicopter cameras.
The Ford 500 4-door car was reported stolen out of Seminole county, and was spotted by law enforcement in Osceola County. Deputies say the driver, 42-year old Alan White, along with two passengers, drove westbound I-4 into Lakeland. From there, the car was spotted in the Sun Acres subdivision in Auburndale.
That's when Richard Loper and his next door neighbor Steve Boswell watched two people jump out of the vehicle after it nearly peeled into a drainage ditch along Summer Hollow Drive. Loper immediately flagged down deputies following the car.
"We're like, hey, stop, stop," Loper said. "Two of them jumped out there and went into the woods. They got them out in about three, four minutes," Loper said.
Boswell said he could see the suspect, a man and a woman, cowering in the brush near his yard. The suspects were later identified as 31-year-old David Junior Lopez and 28-year-old Jennifer Rivera.
When deputies handcuffed them and walked them to the squad car, they asked Boswell if they were the same people he saw flee the vehicle.
"They came and asked me to ID them because the people were lying, saying they weren't part of it," Boswell said. "I went and said that was him and that was her. And I'm proud of it," he said.
A sheriff's helicopter and numerous squad cars combed through the area trying to catch the driver, who fled after the pair of passengers were taken into custody.
"All I heard was the sirens," said Curtis Williams, who works at the Sunrise Supermarket located two blocks from where deputies made the arrests.
"I looked outside, and they're chasing this car. Like five minutes later they're chasing it back out. There's only one way in and one way out of this neighborhood," Williams said.
That's what made White's escape so remarkable. Knowing there was no back road out of Sun Acres, Polk County deputies set up stop sticks to blow out the Ford's tires. Apparently it worked, as Marshall Pope said he saw the car drive by with damaged wheels as .
"Two flat tires and the bumper cover was torn off," Williams said.
Helicopter cameras showed the car driving I-4 eastbound without any rubber on the tires. Despite this, it was able to pass other cars on the highway without losing control. The car traveled 40 miles from Auburndale, past Walt Disney World, and into Orange County.
The car exited onto John Young Parkway, and pulled into the parking lot of the Orlando Grand hotel. The suspect was seen fleeing the car and running up some stairs into the building.
After several hours of searching, Alan White was taken into custody by Orange County deputies. He was discovered in a room on the third floor of the hotel.
White is charged with fleeing police in a stolen vehicle. The other two suspects are held in the Polk County Jail.