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A teenager has died and his friend is in critical condition after they and another friend stole a Maserati with the keys still in the ignition after Hurricane Ian.
Florida officials announced Sunday that 15-year-old Mario Bonilla was killed in the fire accident earlier that morning. Malachi Daniels, 16, who was in the back seat when the luxury car flipped over, is in critical condition.
However, the vehicle’s driver, 15-year-old Keondrick Lang, is expected to survive.
Lang broke into the unlocked Maserati and drove it at high speed into the side of a building. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate the fatal crash.
They are expected to provide more information at another news conference on Tuesday, where they will release dashboard camera and helicopter footage of the deadly crash.
Keondrick Lang, 15, stole an unlocked Maserati and crashed it at 80 mph into the side of a building in St. Petersburg early Sunday morning.
The mangled remains of the supercar can be seen overturned in the parking lot after the deadly crash.
The accident occurred on the side of a two-business building along 62nd Avenue .
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Sunday that deputies in a helicopter had seen the teens steal the Maserati around 3:20 a.m. as they passed through the area on their way to apprehend another suspect.
Agents reported that Lang was using his shirt to pull on the door handles of parked cars in St. Petersburg, so as not to leave fingerprints, when he discovered an unlocked Maserati in a driveway.
After he opened the car door, authorities say, Lang saw that the keys were still inside, and he and his friends got in the car.
“We talk about this all the time,” Gualtieri said. “People really need to lock their car doors and not leave their keys in the car, but they do.
“And when these kids are out in the middle of the night, and they’re stealing and breaking into cars, that’s what they’re looking for.”
Deputies in the air quickly contacted their counterparts on the ground, who attempted to stop the teens before they escaped.
But Lang had already taken off, with ground units following the car and turning on their hazard lights.
The teen apparently assumed officers were going to chase him and he took off at 80 mph with no lights on.
Unbeknownst to Lang, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has a policy of not engaging in highway chases, and they were later chased by the helicopter, which tracked their movements from the air.
Agents in the helicopter then watched as Lang lost control of the vehicle, ran over a sidewalk, struck the side of a two-storey building along 62nd Avenue and flipped the luxury car.
“These are young children, they are inexperienced drivers, without driver’s licenses, driving at 3:30 in the morning [at] 80 mph,” Gualtieri explained.
He said responding officers immediately assisted the suspects, but Bonilla was pronounced dead at the scene.
Daniels, who was transported to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries, also might not survive, Gualtieri announced at his news conference.
And Lang was also transported to the hospital with critical injuries, but he is expected to survive.
Meanwhile, the owner of the car has been notified about the accident.
Authorities later discovered that agents had detained the three teens in the town of Kenneth on September 11 after they were found walking through a residential neighborhood in the early morning hours.
At that point, FOX 13 reports, the children’s parents were called, and the teens were returned home.
“These kids were on that bad path,” Gualtieri said at Sunday’s news conference.
He added that the parents appeared to be distraught over this morning’s accident and said they had thought their children were still in bed at the time.
“One of the children was sharing a room with a younger brother, and from what I understand, from the officers who spoke to the parents this morning, the younger brother didn’t even know he was gone,” Gualtieri said.
Parents had been trying to correct their children’s behavior, he noted, and one even recently transferred his child to a nearby school for a fresh start.
‘You have to feel for these parents because they know the problems you have with 15-, 16-year-olds. They’re trying to do something about it, trying to be aware of it, and the boy runs away.