A teenager is dead and his friend is in critical condition after they steal a Maserati with the keys still in the ignition in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
Florida officials announced Sunday that 15-year-old Mario Bonilla was killed in a fiery crash early that morning after his friend, Keondrick Lang, also 15, broke into an unlocked Maserati and drove it into the side of a building at high speed.
The luxury car then flipped over in the collision, leaving their other friend, Malachi Daniels, 16 – who was in the back seat – in critical condition.
Meanwhile, Lang is expected to survive as the Pinellas County Sheriffs Department continues to investigate the fatality.
They are expected to provide more information on Tuesday at another press conference, where they will release dashcam and helicopter footage of the deadly crash.
Keondrick Lang (15) stole an unlocked Maserati, which he crashed into the side of a building in St. Petersburg early Sunday morning at 80mph at 80mph.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said on Sunday that officers in a helicopter saw the teens steal the Maserati around 3:20 a.m. as they drove over the area on their way to take another suspect into custody.
Officers said Lang used his shirt to pull on the door handles of cars parked in St. Petersburg to avoid leaving fingerprints when he discovered a Maserati unlocked in a driveway.
After opening the car door, authorities said, Lang saw that the keys were still inside and he and his friends jumped into the car.
“We talk about this all the time,” Gualtieri said. “People should really lock their car doors and not leave your keys in the car, but they do.
“And when these kids are out in the middle of the night, stealing and breaking into cars, that’s what they’re looking for.”
The deputies in the air then immediately contacted their counterparts on the ground, who tried to stop the teens before they could escape.
But Lang had already left, with ground units following the car and turning on their emergency lights.
The teen then apparently assumed the officers would be chasing him and took off at 80mph with no headlights.
Unbeknownst to Lang, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has a policy of no chases on the roadway, and they were then chased by the helicopter, which tracked their movements from the air.
Officers in the helicopter then watched as Lang lost control of the vehicle, ran over a curb, crashed into the side of a two-business building on 62nd Avenue, and flipped the luxury car.
‘These are young children, they are inexperienced drivers, no driver’s licenses, driving at 3:30 am [at] 80mph,” Gualtieri explained.
He said responding officers provided immediate assistance to the suspects, but Bonilla was pronounced dead at the scene.
Daniels, who was transported to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries, may also not survive, Gualtieri announced at his press conference.
And Lang was also transported to hospital with critical injuries, but is expected to survive.
The car owner has now been informed of the accident.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the boys’ parents were trying to get them on the right track
Authorities later learned that the three teens had been apprehended by officers in Kenneth City on Sept. 11 after walking through a residential area in the early hours of the morning.
At the time, 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 press conference.
He added that the parents appeared distraught this morning about the accident and said they believed their children were still in bed at the time.
“One of the kids shared a room with a younger sibling, and as far as I understand from the deputies who spoke to the parents this morning, the younger sibling didn’t even know he was leaving,” Gualtieri said. .
The parents had tried to correct their sons’ behavior, he noted, with one of them even recently transferring their boy to a nearby school for a fresh start.
“You have to empathize with these parents because they know the problems you have with 15, 16-year-old kids. They try to do something about it, try to be aware of it, and the kid sneaks out.
“Sometimes bad things happen.”