Plant City teen dies following high-speed police chase

16-year-old driver faces manslaughter charge
Posted at 4:09 PM, Feb 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-09 16:09:22-05

Police are charging a 16-year-old driver with manslaughter after his 15-year-old passenger died from injuries suffered after a crash following a half hour police pursuit. 

Police say Bobby McNeal stole a 2012 Kia Forte from a Lakeland apartment complex on February 2. 

A Plant City Police officer attempted to stop McNeal Tuesday. According to police, McNeal tried to run over that officer. 

Lakeland Police Officer Scott Hutton spotted the stolen vehicle in the parking lot of the Marathon Gas station and the vehicle fled northbound on SR33. Officer Hutton engaged in a high-speed pursuit reaching speeds nearing 100 miles per hour. 

McNeal drove off the road in Polk City, the vehicle went airborne and the driver lost control, causing the vehicle to smash into a pine tree. 

Officer Hutton rushed to the driver's door and physically remove McNeal, dragging him to safety. McNeal resisted and Hutton deployed a TASER to keep McNeal from fighting. 

According to police, McNeal never mentioned that there was another passenger trapped in the car, 15-year-old Milaya Cooper, of Plant City. 

Officer Hutton spotted the female passenger who had been thrown into the back seat as a result of the collision. 

A few moments later, the Forte burst into flames and required several responding officer to get her out of the car. 

"It's just a sad thing," said Cooper's aunt, Jacquelyn Graham-Gilliam. "Our family is just lost for words right now."

Graham-Gilliam says Cooper was a 9th grade student at Durant High School who loved animals and babysitting her younger cousins. 

Family members tell ABC Action News, Cooper was in the wrong place at the wrong time and did not know the car was stolen when she got in. 

"It's always so tough when you lose a loved one, especially so young," said Cooper's uncle, Rufus Brown. 

Cooper was flown as a trauma alert to the Orlando Regional Medical Center immediately following the crash. She later succumbed to her injuries and passed away at ORMC. 

Cooper's family is now making funeral arrangements. 

McNeal was transported to Lakeland Regional Health with serious, non-life threatening injuries. 

The Lakeland Police Department is charging him with manslaughter, aggravated feeing or attempting elude resulting in a death, and driving with no license resulting in a death. 

Plant City Police are charging McNeal with two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, and three counts of fleeing to elude a law enforcement officer.