Multi-County Chase: Girl, 15, found in back seat of stolen, burning car dies from injuries

(Source: Lakeland Police)

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – One teen died and two other people were injured after the stolen car they were in crashed following a multi-county chase that ended in Polk County on Tuesday afternoon.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said the chase began in Plant City and involved a vehicle stolen from Lakeland.

The Plant City Police Department requested assistance from the Lakeland Police Department for a stolen vehicle they were pursuing on Interstate-4 toward the Lakeland city limits.

Police said they made several attempts to stop the stolen vehicle and during that time, the driver attempted to run over an officer.

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An officer attempted to initiate a traffic stop at a gas station on Lakeland Hills Boulevard.  The vehicle failed to yield and fled northbound on Highway 33.

The vehicle later crashed on Commonwealth Avenue at Deen Still Road in Polk City.  Police said the driver left the road to avoid a roundabout in Polk City when the vehicle left the road and went airborne.  The vehicle hit a pine tree and immediately caught fire.

Two people in the stolen car were injured when the car caught fire.  Deputies rescued a woman from the car after it caught fire.

The driver was identified as Bobby McNeal, 16.  He was taken away from the burning vehicle where police said he continued to resist arrest.  Police say he did not mentioned there was another passenger in the car.

Officers and deputies used fire extinguishers and were able to force open the rear door to rescue a girl who was unresponsive and gravely injured in the backseat.  She was identified as Milaya Cooper, 15, from Plant City.

She was flown to the Orlando Regional Medical Center as a trauma alert. Plant City Police said Wednesday Cooper died of her injuries at ORMC Tuesday night.

McNeal is facing charges of aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude, resulting in a death, manslaughter and driving with no license resulting in a death.

Police said McDeal has three prior felonies and eight misdemeanor arrests.  He remains at Lakeland Regional Health with serious, but non life-threatening injures.


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