A 13-year-old girl was arrested for grand theft auto and leaving the scene of a crash after an incident in Pinellas Park, police say.
"I feel very fortunate," said Pinellas Park resident Donna Mastin. "Very blessed because it could have been a lot worse."
Donna and I walked slowly through her front yard at the corner of 73rd Court and 82nd Avenue in Pinellas Park, marveling at the damage still evident here after a minivan came careening down 82nd toward the dead end, right thorough a substantial brick subdivision sign… and right into her front yard:
"If this tree had not stopped it..." said Donna -- pointing to an old Oak that she'd painstakingly nursed back-to health. "Or if the wheel had turned a different way she could have gone right through here and into my front door."
It was an amazingly close call for this Pinellas Park homeowner who lamented she'd just about finished all the re-hab work on the house she moved into in 2014. She says she was just about ready for bed just after 11 p.m. when she heard a crash that sounded "like the roof falling in."
By the time she got her bearings and saw the chaos outside in her yard, Pinellas Park Police were arresting the 13 year-old girl driving the car, reportedly stolen out of Pasco county.
"She's charged with Grand-Theft-Auto in addition to leaving the scene of a crash and also driving with no license," said Sgt. Mike Lynch of PPPD.
Of course, no 13 year-old could get a license. But cops are concerned , not only about the under-age driving, but also that this growing trend of children's crime that isn't showing any signs of slowing.
"Ultimately what we've been seeing is that they're using them for other crimes," lamented Sgt. Lynch. "Committing vehicle burglaries in neighborhoods and things like that."
Which is why the patrol officer -- seeing the erratically operated Honda Odyssey along this stretch of 82nd Avenue -- followed it.
After the driver blew through a red light at 66th Street, the officer hit his light bar. At that point, the driver turned off the van's lights only to end up through the wall less than a minute later. Cops insist there was NO pursuit, but the impact speed is estimated at 40 miles per hour.
"The fact that the wall came with the car, those bricks just fell apart and they became projectiles and just -- I mean they're all over the place," said Donna, "It went through my window."
In fact, the force was so great that part of that subdivision wall ended up in her Dining Room almost 40 feet away.
And as she looked around her property, seeing all the left over car parts and scarred landscaping, she's simply thankful… it wasn't worse.
"There were bricks inside the back seat of the car so rally, that young lady is very lucky that it didn't hit her and do more damage to her."
But the damage has been done to this girl's record. She's a juvenile, so despite the FELONY charges against her, we're not naming her. Rest assured though, the authorities here -- and in Pasco County -- know who she is.