St. Petersburg, FL – Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri released video filmed by a sheriff’s department helicopter early on Sunday morning that showed three teenagers stealing a Maserati, fleeing police, and then flipping the sports car at 123 mph (video below).
Sheriff Gualtieri said the incident began as sheriff’s deputies were responding to another burglary call in a residential neighborhood on Oct. 3, WFLA reported.
As the sheriff’s helicopter flew overhead, the pilot spotted three teenagers behaving suspiciously on the sidewalk below and pointed them out to the dispatcher over the radio.
The video showed that as the pilot asked for deputies to investigate what the teens were up to, the suspects got into a Maserati parked by the sidewalk.
The sheriff said one of the boys covered his hand with his shirt as he opened the car door so he wouldn’t get his fingerprints on the soon-to-be-stolen vehicle, WFLA reported.
A moment later, the stolen Maserati pulled onto the sidewalk, drove across the grass, and then pulled onto the roadway with its headlights off and drove east on 62nd Avenue North, the video showed.
Sheriff Gualtieri said the aerial unit followed the stolen Maserati until patrol vehicles caught up with it, WFLA reported.
The sheriff said that when the 15-year-old driver saw police cruisers approaching him, he slammed on the gas and accelerated to 123 mph.
“As [the driver] punches it, the deputies immediately turn off their overheads, the sergeant got on the radio and told them to disengage, which they did immediately,” he explained.
The video from the helicopter showed that both police vehicles gave up the chase, dropped back, and were out of the camera’s view when the teen driver lost control of the Maserati a few seconds later.
“At five seconds before the crash, that Maserati was going 123 mph,” Sheriff Gualtieri told reporters.
The video showed the Maserati left the roadway and flipped multiple times before eventually coming to rest upside down.
The front seat passenger died at the scene of the wreck, WFLA reported.
He was later identified as 15-year-old Mario Bonilla.
A 16-year-old passenger in the back seat suffered life-threatening injuries but was expected to survive, WFLA reported.
Sheriff Gualtieri said the 15-year-old driver – later identified as 15-year-old Keondrick Lang – suffered critical but non-life-threatening injuries in the crash that killed his passenger.
Police said Lang is facing murder charges for Bonilla’s death.
The sheriff said that when deputies pulled the driver from the wrecked Maserati, they found a .25 caliber semiautomatic handgun on the front seat of the car, WFLA reported.
The gun did not belong to the owner of the stolen sports car, according to the sheriff.
Records showed the gun was registered to a business in Largo in 1968, WFLA reported.
“My guess, it’s probably been stolen several times, sold on the street several times, and it’s what we call a crime gun,” Sheriff Gualtieri said.
Deputies also recovered a facemask and a glove inside the wrecked Maserati, WFLA reported.
The car thieves’ parents told police that the boys were supposed be at home when they stole the car but had snuck out.
The sheriff said none of the teens had criminal record but noted they had been stopped by police in September after they were caught entering a residential area dressed in black and wearing facemasks, WFLA reported.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below: