Live Oak —
Three Live Oak residents were killed, one a teenager, and one seriously injured on Thanksgiving Day after the vehicle they were riding in crashed into a Live Oak business after fleeing from local authorities, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
According to FHP, Lonnie Lavern Freeman, 20, and Patrelle J. Stokes, 16, both from Live Oak, were pronounced deceased on scene following the wreck. Shiateria Wimbash, 20, Live Oak, was pronounced dead the following day at Shands Gainesville.
FHP reports that the Suwannee County Sheriff's Office was called to McDonald's restaurant at I-10 and US 129 North around 12:50 a.m. on an active disturbance call.
“We received a call from McDonalds of a group of 8-9 people harassing customers and being loud. When the managers tried to talk to them and eventually asked them to leave, they wouldn’t leave. They needed some deputies out there,” Suwannee County Sheriff Tony Cameron said.
Cameron said when the deputy arrived, he began by talking to the group that was being the loudest. During that time some tried to leave the scene. The deputy was then informed those trying to leave were part of the group.
Freeman and his passengers, Stokes, Kwon Lavelle Matthews, 23, and Wimbash, loaded up in a 2002 Chevrolet Monte Carlo attempting to flee the scene.
“The deputy tried to stop them by standing in front of the car,” Cameron said. “That didn’t stop them and the deputy moved out of the way. There was a car partially blocking the lane. They struck that car with the passenger side, leaving scrape marks down the side of the vehicle. They took off and headed south (on US 129 toward Live Oak).”
Cameron said by the time the driver moved the vehicle for the deputy to get by, the people fleeing “got a pretty good head start.”
“The deputy was beginning to gain on them but was still some distance behind (when the crash occurred),” said Cameron.
An FHP report stated while the Monte Carlo was actively fleeing from the SCSO deputy and approaching Spruce Street Northwest, Freeman attempted a right turn. Freeman then lost control of the vehicle and entered into a clockwise rotation.
“The deputy saw them tap on their brakes once to try to make the turn, but they lost control,” Cameron said. “The vehicle then began sliding and struck the Workforce building with the driver’s side of the vehicle.”
The North Florida Workforce Development Building, located at 815 Ohio Ave., Live Oak, sustained damages. The damaged portion of the building was temporarily repaired with plywood.
Following the crash, Suwannee County EMS pronounced Freeman and Stokes deceased on scene. Passengers Matthews and Shiateria Wimbash, 20, both of Live Oak, were transported to Shands Gainesville by air. Wimbash was pronounced dead at 12:59 a.m. Nov. 29.
The condition of Matthews is not known at this time.
FHP investigated both incidents at McDonald's and the scene of the crash. The Live Oak Police Department assisted at the scene.
Suwannee County Public Safety Director James Sommers, while responding later to the scene, crashed into a small tree. He was not injured. FHP reported that Sommers, 34, was traveling south on 97th Road in his emergency response vehicle, responding to the traffic crash with the emergency lights and siren activated. Sommers was reportedly looking at a map to determine the most efficient route to respond to the call as he approached the intersection of 140th Street. Sommers was unable to stop at the intersection and traveled onto the south shoulder of 140th Street striking a tree with the front of the vehicle. FHP reported no charges filed against Sommers.