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VIDEO: MCSO - Third Body Recovered from Stolen Vehicle That Crashed Into St. Lucie River After Midnight Tuesday; Identities of 3 of the 5 in the Car Released


Martin County - Wednesday May 8, 2024: The Martin County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) has confirmed that a second and third body were recovered today in the area of the St. Lucie River where a stolen car crashed and sank at 47 minutes past midnight on Tuesday morning.

Martin County Fire Rescue’s Dive Team recovered the first body early Tuesday from inside the sunken car. He has been identified as 17-year-old Marcus Griffin of Lake Worth.

The second body was pulled from the river around 8 AM Wednesday morning, and third was found in the same area of the river shortly after 1 PM. Their identities had not been released as of late Wednesday afternoon.

Two other teenagers, a 15-year-old boy, and an 18-year-old male, surfaced from the sunken vehicle and swam ashore. Both were taken into custody, and then released pending further investigation.

They have been identified as 18-year old Enrique Hernandez of Lake Worth, and 15-year old Damion Toussaint of Boynton Beach. Toussaint was wearing a full ski mask.

The Sheriff's Office says detectives questioned the two survivors, but they gave conflicting stories about the number of people in the stolen vehicle, and they did not explain why they were speeding in a stolen car, where they were going, or what they were planing to do.

The three dead, and two survivors from the crash, were "from out of the county," said MC Sheriff William Snyder. He is working with the State Attorney’s Office to determine what charges they will face.

The Pursuit
The car was stolen in Palm Beach County from an apartment complex parking lot in Boynton Beach.

It's not clear yet which of the five occupants was driving the stolen vehicle. Whoever was at the wheel, a release posted on the Sheriff's Facebook page states that they sped recklessly for about 11 miles in six minutes, running red lights, and nearly causing two crashes along the way.

The Martin County Sheriff's Office picked up the case and began tracking the stolen Mazda when it crossed into Martin County at 12:39 a.m. Tuesday. The vehicle was first spotted on High Meadows Avenue in Palm City.

However, Sheriff Snyder decided against a ground pursuit by patrol cars, opting instead to let their helicopter track the vehicle, and have a patrol unit place stop sticks ahead of it.

Video of the incident (below), recorded by the MCSO Air 1 helicopter, shows the stolen car streaking down Southeast Cove Road where, at one point, it was traveling west against the traffic. A deputy on that road momentarily activated his blue lights in an attempt to alert oncoming traffic to the danger, and slow the Mazda down, but the driver of the stolen vehicle sped by, continuing at a high rate of speed towards Kanner Highway where Southeast Cove Road ends.

Deputies deployed stop sticks on Southeast Cove Road, not far from where the road meets Kanner Highway.

The Mazda can be seen running over the stop sticks. Its tires punctured, the driver lost control. Already going too fast to stop in time before the end of Cove Road, the vehicle, sparks flying, slide across all four lanes of Kanner Highway, barreled through a patch of trees and brush, and plunged into the St. Lucie River.