Breaking News
More () »

High-speed chase through 3 counties ends with JSO arresting fugitive wanted for molestation

JSO says 39-year-old Keith Smith Jr. was wanted for lewd and lascivious molestation, tampering with an ankle monitor and child custody interference.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A man wanted for molestation and other charges led law enforcement on a high-speed chase through three counties before crashing and being arrested near the Georgia state line last week.

According to an arrest report from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, 39-year-old Keith Smith Jr., of Keystone Heights, had an active warrant for lewd and lascivious molestation, tampering with an ankle monitor and child custody interference out of Clay County. 

Last Thursday at 12 p.m., a USMS Fugitive Task Force officer saw Smith get into the passenger side of a white Hyundai Elantra driven by his girlfriend, the report says. JSO K-9 Officer Morgan and USMS Task Force officers tried to make a high-risk traffic stop at 8400 New Kings Rd., and that's when the driver exited the vehicle and Smith jumped into the driver seat and drove off, according to the report.

Morgan and Detective C.J. Berry said they pursued Smith north on Trout River Boulevard, then to Lem Turner Road. Smith ran two red lights on Lem Turner Road, narrowly avoiding collisions with other drivers, the report says.

Berry attempted a PIT maneuver on Lem Turner Road but was unsuccessful, according to the report. Smith led officers to I-95 north, where Berry again attempted a PIT, but was again unsuccessful, the report says.

Near the I-295 intersection, Smith sideswiped a vehicle on the road while trying to pass them, the report says. The chase continued up I-95 into Nassau County, where a Nassau County Sheriff's Office deputy tried to deploy stop sticks near US-17, but was unsuccessful. While the officer tried to deploy the stop sticks, Smith swerved at the deputy, according to the report. 

Officer Sapp conducted a PIT maneuver before the agricultural station on I-95, but Smith was able to drive out of the PIT and sped through the agricultural station, then back onto I-95 into Georgia, the report says. Sapp attempted another PIT maneuver, which was successful in getting Smith's vehicle into the median and blocked by patrol vehicles.

While JSO officers were attempting to take the suspect into custody, a Camden County Sheriff's Office deputy deployed his K-9, which bit the suspect on his ankle. Camden County Fire Rescue made the decision to take Smith to UF Health Jacksonville to be treated for his dog bite injuries, the report says.

Police arrested Smith for aggravated fleeing and eluding an officer, disregarding the safety of others and leaving the scene of a crash, according to the arrest report.

RELATED: Bank robbery suspect in custody after chase ending with head-on collision, 4 people injured on Jacksonville's Westside

RELATED: Road renamed after Clay County sergeant who died from COVID-19

Before You Leave, Check This Out