September 19, 2011

Reckless motorcycles almost hit one deputy, flee from another

In two separate incidents Sunday, reckless drivers on motorcycles almost hit a deputy in Key Largo and fled from a deputy on Big Pine Key.

In Key Largo, Deputies Jacek Szymanski and Jason Keith were at the 108.9 mile marker where vehicles frequently break the law by using a merge lane as a passing lane. Traffic was heavy and Deputy Szymanski alone had just made 14 stops for the same violation in an hour and a half. At 3:15 p.m. both deputies were out of their vehicles on the side of the road when they heard a motorcycle engine revving. They then saw a motorcycle driving on the shoulder of the road, passing a truck towing a boat. The motorcycle accelerated, causing Deputy Keith to jump out of the way to avoid being hit.

Deputy Szymanski jumped into his patrol car and stopped the motorcycle, driven by 35 year old David Menendez of Miami. Menendez was arrested and charged with reckless driving.

At 2:15 a.m. Sunday, Deputy Juan Martin-Reyes was at the 27 mile marker on Ramrod Key when another deputy radioed him about a reckless motorcycle. Just as he received the transmission, the motorcycle passed the deputy northbound at a high rate of speed, registering on his radar at 99 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. Deputy Martin-Reyes turned on his lights and siren and attempted to stop the vehicle, but the vehicle continued to speed, passing several other vehicles in no passing zones. The deputy lost sight of the motorcycle on Big Pine Key, but found it abandoned on the side of the road at the 33 mile marker of the highway.

A search of the area failed to turn up the driver; the bike, a yellow 2008 Honda, was found lying on its side, still running, and appeared to have been hot wired. A check on the tag revealed it belonged to someone who lives in Miami. Miami-Dade police were contacted to assist in finding the owner, but the owner was not at home.

Several hours later, Deputy Martin-Reyes was on patrol and saw a man sitting outside at St. Peters Church. The man said he was waiting for his sister to come from Miami to pick him up. The man was wet, muddy his shirt was torn and he had leaves and grass in his hair. He appeared very nervous as the deputy was talking with him.

As the deputy asked for the man’s identification, he tried to flee; the deputy grabbed him and they struggled. During the struggle, the deputy grabbed the sleeve of the man’s shirt and the man took the shirt off to get away. The deputy shot his Taser, hitting the man with one prong but failing to stop him.  The man broke away and ran into a wooded area. Deputy Martin-Reyes called for backup officers and a search was conducted of the area, but the man was not found.

At 11 a.m., Detective Diane Mimosa was notified by Key West Police the motorcycle had been reported stolen. It was reportedly taken from the Fairfield Inn in Key West. Investigations into the identity of the suspect continue.

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