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New details released in overnight search for suspect who crashed while running from police

Authorities later found that the teen is also a 'validated' gang member, according to state records.
Credit: Lexington Police Department
Drone video helped police find a teen who crashed a stolen car and then ran into the woods on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023.

LEXINGTON, S.C. — The Lexington Police Department is providing new information about an incident that spurred a neighborhood search and shut down area roads on Saturday night.

According to a statement released on Sunday morning, the whole incident began when deputies attempted to stop a vehicle for having a headlight out and an expired license plate.

Police said the driver didn't stop and instead attempted to escape by driving away at high speed. Lexington Police said there was no vehicle chase of the suspect since the violations the driver was facing at that time didn't rise to a level where the department would allow a pursuit.

However, the escaping suspect crashed anyway and photos from the scene showed the vehicle heavily damaged and flipped on its side off of Roberts Street near Gibson Road. The responding officer arrived in time to see the suspect climbing from the wreckage and continuing his escape attempt into the nearby woods.

With help from the Lexington County Sheriff's Department and the South Carolina Highway Patrol, police were able to set up and maintain a perimeter while shutting down roads in the area to search. A sheriff's department K-9 team was also called in and police used a drone to search by air.

Police said that, with the help of their drone, it took roughly two hours to catch the suspect. Officers arrived and took the suspect a 17-year-old boy, into custody and then to the hospital for treatment of collision injuries and exposure.

Further investigation found not only that the teen didn't have a driver's license but that the vehicle was stolen. The teen was also described as a "validated" gang member, meaning he was entered into state records at a previous time as having a gang affiliation.

Authorities said there are specific requirements for someone to fall under this category.

The suspect now faces new charges of failure to stop for blue lights, leaving the scene of a collision, reckless driving, driving without a license, and possession of a stolen vehicle - these being in addition to the initial violation of a defective headlight.

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