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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Dunnellon man involved in hit and run crash apprehended by K-9 officer

A 42-year-old Dunnellon man was apprehended by a K-9 officer after he left the scene of an accident and fled from local law enforcement officers.

On Saturday, April 30 at around midnight, the Ocala Police Department received notification that a silver van, which was reportedly driving recklessly, had struck a vehicle near W State Road 40 and Interstate 75. The van then fled the scene of the accident.

An OPD sergeant spotted the van as it traveled eastbound on State Road 40 near SW 27th Avenue and a traffic stop was attempted. The van’s driver, later identified as Ernesto Garcia, refused to stop.

Ernesto Garcia
Ernesto Garcia

The sergeant ended the pursuit due to a large block party that was in the area. Another officer with a K-9 partner located the van, and another traffic stop was attempted. According to OPD, Garcia ran through multiple red lights and reached speeds of 65 miles per hour.

A sergeant deployed spike strips near the intersection of Pine Avenue and State Road 40. One of the van’s tires were struck by the spike strips, and Garcia continued to travel northbound on Pine Avenue.

Garcia turned west onto NW 10th Street, made a U-turn, and began to travel southbound on Pine Avenue.

A Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy joined the pursuit and conducted a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver on the van near the 500 block of N Pine Avenue. Garcia exited the van and ran down a nearby embankment. Multiple officers and K-9 partners chased after him.

Garcia was apprehended by a K-9 officer as he attempted to climb a chain link fence. He received medical aid for injuries sustained during the apprehension.

Inside Garcia’s van, the officers found multiple Xanax pills which were on the floorboard, and some pills were also located inside a clear plastic baggie, according to OPD.

Garcia was arrested, transported to Marion County Jail, and he was later released on $9,000 bond. He is facing felony charges for fleeing with disregard for a person’s safety and possession of a controlled substance, along with misdemeanor charges for hit and run and resisting without violence.

A court date has been scheduled on Tuesday, May 31 at 9 a.m., according to jail records.