A 17-year-old suspect in a car theft ring was taken into custody at the Evans County Jail on Friday morning after a flight from police ended in a fatal hit-and-run accident. The victim, also 17, has not yet been publicly identified.
The teen driver’s identity also had not yet been released Friday night, as the investigation involving several law enforcement agencies was ongoing, said Georgia State Patrol Sr. Trooper T. Strickland.
He said the responding trooper, Trooper 1st Class Hunter Oglesby, reported late Friday that no charges had yet been filed against the suspect to his knowledge, as the incident was “still being sorted out.”
“They do have a person of interest in custody,” he said.
The Claxton Enterprise reported the teen was taken into custody around 11:30 a.m. after appearing at a Ponderosa Road home, where a female resident said she did not know him and that he was “not making any sense.”
Five stolen cars were recovered: three stolen from Hagan, one from elsewhere in Evans County and one from Effingham County, said Hagan police Chief Dale Kirkland.
The car thefts, police chase, fatality and a subsequent crash are being investigated by the Hagan Police Department, Evans County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol Post 45 and Region 5 Georgia Bureau of Investigation Office in Statesboro, he said.
Kirkland said he received a call around 6 a.m. about a stolen car located at a Firetower Road residence, and when he arrived, the driver of the car fled.
He pursued the car, and the driver abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot. At the time, Kirkland did not realize that there were two more stolen cars ahead of the one he was chasing, he said.
The driver of one of the other two cars also abandoned the car he was driving and had started to flee on foot when he was struck by the third car, which then crashed, he said.
No suspects were taken into custody at the scene, but eventually all five cars were recovered.
“We think they are all connected,” he said.
Evans County Sheriff Randall Tippins met with Oglesby and other law enforcement officers after an investigation at the scene that took well over 10 hours, according to Evans County sheriff’s and Georgia State Patrol spokespersons. Tippins was unavailable for comment Friday. Neither he nor Evans County Chief Deputy Virgil Deloach returned phone messages left Friday.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.