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Friday, Dec 15, 2017
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Stolen car crashes in St. Pete, leaving passenger, 15, with life threatening injuries

Two boys in a stolen car struck a dip in the roadway and crashed into a tree, leaving the 15-year-old passenger with life-threatening injuries, St. Petersburg police said.

The crash occurred about 11:25 a.m. Sunday as the car sped west on 11th Avenue S at 40th Street, police said.

As police were investigating the crash, they received a report that the car involved — a white 2014 Chevrolet Camaro — had been reported stolen.

Driver Myles Abbott, 14, received serious injuries, while injuries to passenger Alijah Armstead, 15, were life-threatening, police said. The crash is under investigation.

The Tampa Bay Times has chronicled the teen car theft epidemic in its "Hot Wheels" series, talking to young car thieves in Pinellas, their parents, police, judges and local leaders.

Reporters found that in an 18-month period, kids crashed stolen cars at least once every four days. Eight Pinellas teens have died in incidents involving stolen cars in the past two years alone, including three this past summer.

Officials and community members say the series changed how they understand and treat the problem. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, has held three community meetings and is planning another while promising to look for funding for youth programs. Legislators have stiffened the law for the worst offenders.

St. Petersburg police began this spring to more comprehensively track how cars are stolen. The department posts online each week how many vehicles were left unlocked or running, warning owners to be vigilant.

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