Three killed in crash involving stolen Marion County Sheriff's Office patrol SUV

Editor's note: This story has been revised to correct the age of the woman who was driving the stolen vehicle. She was 33.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office and Florida Highway Patrol on Thursday were investigating a bizarre and deadly crash in the east part of the county. A woman driving a stolen sheriff's office SUV was killed, as were two people in a pickup truck. Here is what we know.

Traffic is now clear on State Road 40 East

As of 7:45 p.m., traffic on State Road 40 East was once again open.

More details about the people in the pickup truck

The FHP issued a news release about 7:45 p.m. That release says the pickup driver was a 73-year-old man from Waterloo, South Carolina, and the woman was 72 and from the same town. The patrol did not provide names or say if they were related.

The third person in the truck was critically injured. No information about him was provided.

More details about the woman who died while driving a stolen Marion County Sheriff's Office SUV

The woman was 33 and from Silver Springs, according to the FHP.

More details about the pickup truck that was struck by the stolen sheriff's office patrol vehicle

According to FHP, the pickup truck was an older model GMC Sierra. A man and a woman inside the truck were killed in the crash. A third person in the truck was hospitalized in critical condition.

Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Turner, left, Michael Stringer, center and Sgt. Paul Yeoumans, right, directs traffic near FR 88 on East SR40. The Marion County Sheriff's Office was involved in a high speed chase down East SR 40 Thursday afternoon, February 1, 2024 involving a stolen MCSO SUV. The fatal crash occurred past Forest Road 88 (FR11) west of the Juniper Springs entrance according to MCSO officials. [Doug Engle/Ocala Star Banner]2024

More details about how the Marion County Sheriff's Office SUV was stolen

In a Facebook post, the sheriff's office said the incident started about 2 p.m. Thursday when deputies received a report of a suspicious incident at Forest Plaza, which is in the 15900 block of SR 40 East in Silver Springs.

Separately, the FHP reported that the suspicious incident was a woman who was breaking into vehicles in the plaza parking lot.

According to the sheriff's office Facebook post: "When the deputy arrived, he made contact with an individual involved in the suspicious incident. Shortly after the deputy exited his patrol vehicle, the individual entered it and fled at a high rate of speed."

The sheriff's office told reporters that a second deputy who was nearby began pursuing the stolen vehicle.

"While fleeing in the stolen vehicle, the driver ultimately crashed into the pickup truck," the Facebook post says.

— Jim Ross and Austin L. Miller

More details about the crash: Deputies were pursuing the stolen vehicle

This information comes from the FHP:

The stolen Marion County Sheriff's Office vehicle was an SUV. It was being driven east on SR 40 East. The other vehicle was a pickup truck. It was westbound on SR 40. The vehicles collided when the pickup truck entered the passing lane.

At the time of the crash, the stolen vehicle was being pursued by deputies.

The SUV caught fire after the crash. The SUV driver, a woman, was killed. Two people in the pickup truck died; a third was taken to a hospital and listed in critical condition.

Austin L. Miller

3 people killed in crash involving stolen Marion County Sheriff's vehicle

The crash scene is off State Road 40 East near the National Forest Rifle Range, less than five miles west of State Road 19. Traffic in that area was being detoured as of 3:40 p.m.

Watch: Video update after 3 killed in Marion sheriff's vehicle theft

The sheriff's office is still trying to determine how the patrol vehicle was stolen.

All that is know for certain is that the vehicle crashed into a pickup truck, leaving three people dead. One additional person was taken to a local hospital.

Marion County Fire Rescue spokesman James Lucas said his agency received the call at 2:21 p.m. and arrived on scene at 2:32 p.m.

Traffic blocked due to crash in east Marion

As of 4 p.m., traffic was being blocked between Forest Road 88 and State Road 19 as investigators worked the crash scene.

Photos from the deadly crash involving a stolen Marion County Sheriff's patrol vehicle

Staff photographer Doug Engle is at the roadblock point and has filed these photos:

The fatal crash occurred past Forest Road 88 (FR11) west of the Juniper Springs entrance.

Other crashes on State Road 40 East

This is an unusual case, but there have been many other major crashes on State Road 40 East through the years. To mention just a few: In November, an Amazon semitractor-trailer and an SUV crashed. In May, one person was killed and three injured in a crash just east of County Road 314. In October 2022, a head-on crash close to Northeast 118th Avenue Road killed one person and injured two others.

— Jim Ross

This article originally appeared on Ocala Star-Banner: Deadly crash involves stolen deputy's vehicle in Marion County, Florida.