Police: Car on fire, with only 3 tires driving through darkness near UF campus

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It was quite a sight: A witness called police to report someone in a silver station wagon on fire with only three tires being driven through the darkness along a city road bordering the University of Florida campus.

“It was missing its front driver’s tire and had sparks (and) smoke and occasional flames coming from the front of the vehicle,” Gainesville police officer Matthew Quinn wrote in his report. 

Quinn said the station wagon was seen headed southbound on Southwest 34th Street just after midnight Sunday. Quinn said the car was swerving erratically posing what he described as a danger to other drivers and pedestrians. It wasn’t clear whether the driver was missing a spare tire or didn’t know how to change one.

Quinn said he quickly caught up with the driver, identified as Adrian Vincent Hernandez, 23, of Gainesville, and said Hernandez would not pull over despite Quinn using his cruiser lights and siren. The officer said Hernandez ran a red light as he continued to drive away from campus on Southwest 20th Avenue.

Quinn said Hernandez pulled into the parking lot of a nearby apartment complex less than one mile away and exited the 1995 Ford station wagon. Hernandez was arrested and accused of fleeing police, which is a felony, and resisting an officer and driving with a suspended license, both misdemeanors, police said. Hernandez lives less than 100 feet from the parking lot where he stopped the car.

Hernandez told police he knew officers were trying to pull him over but he “refused to stop because he wanted to drive his vehicle to his house,” Quinn wrote in his arrest report.

Hernandez, who told the court he could not afford a private lawyer, did not immediately respond to phone messages left at the number he provided to police. He was not listed on the UF registrar’s list as a student for the fall semester. He was released from jail Monday without having to pay bail.

Quinn said Hernandez was charged with resisting an officer because he kicked and beat his head against the inside of Quinn’s patrol car while seated in the back seat after he was arrested. He said he told Hernandez to stop, but Hernandez continued to kick at the door.

On Tuesday, the day after Hernandez’s release from the jail, he was served with court papers in an unrelated misdemeanor theft case in which he is accused of stealing from a retail store, court documents showed.

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This is a breaking news story. Check back for further developments. Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

About Elliot Tritto

Elliot is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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