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Girl, 5, killed as Florida police chase suspected kidnapper

April 1, 2022 GMT

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A 5-year-old girl died when the car she was riding in crashed into a retention pond off Florida’s Interstate 95 during a high-speed police pursuit of her suspected kidnapper, Jacksonville Sheriff’s officials said.

Police received word of the kidnapping around 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Officer Christian Hancock said during a news conference late Thursday.

He said an officer was on the way to the scene of a reported kidnapping when he spotted the vehicle of interest at a red light.

“The suspect sped off after seeing the officer and a pursuit began at that point as we were responding to a kidnapping in progress with an armed suspect,” Hancock said.

The woman suspected of kidnapping the girl drove onto I-95 at speeds reaching 90 mph (145 kph) before attempting to exit the highway, Hancock said.

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The pursuit covered around 30 miles (48 kilometers), but as the driver exited the highway, she drove into a pond, Hancock said.

“Numerous officers got out of their vehicles, took off their gear, and went into the water,” Hancock said. “The suspect was apprehended in the water. Unfortunately the child was not, the child was not located at the time.”

Additional officers and Jacksonville Fire Department crews helped with the search.

“The child was, unfortunately, located at the bottom of the pond, deceased,” Hancock said. She was outside of the vehicle when she was found.

Hancock said he did not know the relationship between the woman and child. Their names were not released.

He said the woman was allegedly armed with a knife when the kidnapping took place.

She is expected to face multiple charges, including traffic homicide, he said.

No other vehicles were damaged during the pursuit, Hancock said. One officer was taken to a hospital for treatment after going into the pond to help search for the child.

The investigation is continuing, Hancock said.