CRYSTAL RIVER - The driver of a car suspected of involvement in a crash that killed a Florida Highway Patrol trooper in Columbia County was arrested Tuesday after a two-county chase that ended in a wreck east of Crystal River.
Citrus County sheriff's officials held Gregory Hampton Platt, 31, of Naples on charges of driving with a suspended license, fleeing and eluding a police officer, resisting or obstructing an officer without violence, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer, according to an arrest report.
Platt's passenger, Kelly Jean Smith, 25, also of Naples, was charged with possessing 20 grams or less of marijuana, the arrest report said.
The report also showed she was charged with resisting or obstructing an officer without violence.
The highway patrol is investigating the crash that killed Sgt. George A. "Andy" Brown III, 54, and is trying to determine the role of the vehicle Platt drove, a dark Plymouth Neon coup, patrol spokesman Larry Coggins said.
Coggins said troopers interviewed Platt and Smith after they were taken into custody at the Citrus County Sheriff's Office.
The series of incidents began about 10 a.m. Tuesday as Brown tried to stop a speeder on County Road 341 in Columbia County, about 6 miles south of Lake City, according to FHP.
As both cars traveled south on CR 341, Brown's 2002 Camaro went off the road and onto the shoulder, rotated counter-clockwise and then veered into woods, striking several trees.
He was found dead in his patrol car, Coggins said.
Brown's last radio transmission was to troopers in Lake City. He gave a detailed description of the car, driver and passenger he was trying to stop.
Later Tuesday morning, officer Wade Merritt of the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, heard the statewide bulletin that had been issued for the vehicle suspected of involvement in the fatal crash.
Merritt, on patrol in Levy County, called the Levy County Sheriff's Office to report he thought he was behind the vehicle the FHP was seeking. He asked for backup.
Traveling south on U.S. 19, the officer activated his lights and sirens, but the car sped off. At times, authorities said, the officer drove up to 100 mph.
When the pursuit crossed into Citrus County, Citrus deputies took over. They were assisted by Crystal River police, said sheriff's spokeswoman Gail Tierney.
The chase continued on W Power Line Street, then returned to U.S. 19, then proceeded east onto State Road 44.
At SR 44 and Citrus County Road 486, the Neon struck the rear of a Toyota Camry, then went in reverse and struck the front end of a Citrus sheriff's vehicle.
Deputy Matt Taylor, 37, was transported to Citrus Memorial Hospital with a shoulder injury, Tierney said.
Afterward, Platt got out of the car and ran toward the northwest corner of the intersection. He was apprehended by three officers.