Upper Keys crash leads to arrest for auto theft

A man driving a stolen pickup truck caused a U.S. 1 crash by using the median in Tavernier to pass Friday, the Florida Highway Patrol reports.

Bryan C. Sampson, 31, kept going, chased by the driver he hit around mile marker 90, according to an accident report. A Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputy stopped the stolen 2012 Ford F-150 truck about four miles farther south at Whale Harbor.

Sampson remained in the Monroe County jail at press time under a $28,000 bond for felony vehicle theft and five misdemeanor counts. Sampson listed a Lawndale, Calif., address.

David Danford of Homestead told FHP Sgt. Pedro Reinoso that he was driving his 2012 Ford Explorer south in the U.S. passing lane when the pickup driven by Sampson veered onto the inside road shoulder, between the left lane and grass median, to pass illegally.

"The F-150 sideswiped the Explorer, right side to left side and continued at a high rate of speed" while driving through heavy traffic," Reinoso said. The truck raced through a red light at the traffic signal at the Tavernier Towne plaza.

Danford chased the pickup truck while calling 911 but he stopped south of Founders Park. Islamorada sheriff's Deputy Martin Digrius saw the speeding pickup as it approached the Whale Harbor Marina and pulled it over.

The F-150 truck had been reported stolen from Hialeah Gardens. Sampson was booked on counts of vehicle theft, reckless driving, hit-and-run, theft of a credit card, driving on an expired license and resisting arrest without violence.

Damage from the crash was estimated at $1,000.