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Man leads police on 2-county chase

A driver rams a cruiser and takes off up U.S. 19 before being caught and charged in Levy County.

By ALEX LEARY

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 13, 2001


CRYSTAL RIVER -- He took out one police cruiser and wore down another in a chase through two counties, but the man behind the wheel never saw the spikes across the road.

The tires deflated in a matter of seconds, sending the Grand Marquis into the median, where it flipped over.

The driver, identified as 52-year-old Mark Wolfson, got out of the car and started walking along U.S. 19, as if nothing had happened, police said.

He was arrested early Monday and charged with fleeing and eluding, a felony, and leaving the scene of an accident.

Wolfson, who police said lives at 9551 N Country Club Drive, is being held without bail. Alcohol is not believed to be involved.

The arrest followed a bizarre turn of events.

Shortly after midnight Sunday, police were notified that a man was boasting at Denny's restaurant that he was going to "blow up" a gasoline station.

Two officers were dispatched. Cpl. Tom Peruche was entering the parking lot of a gasoline station near Crystal River Bank when he was rear-ended by a vehicle.

"The whole back end of his patrol car is in the back seat now," said Detective Corey Sharpe, estimating the cruiser sustained between $6,000 and $8,000 in damage.

Instead of stopping, the driver took off north on U.S. 19, toward Levy County.

At speeds up to 95 mph, Officer Ian Hay gave chase, pushing his cruiser so hard that a radiator hose broke.

The driver ignored the flashing lights and siren. At one point, he turned off his lights in an apparent attempt to elude Hay.

Levy County Sheriff's Office deputies were waiting with a string of spikes across U.S. 19 in Otter Creek, a mile south of State Road 24.

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