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Florida Highway Patrol chases stolen box truck, ends with traffic-blocking crash in Gainesville

Courtesy: Florida Highway Patrol
FHP says the 2015 Isuzu Box Truck was stolen Tuesday AM in Hillsborough County.

Law enforcement's chase of a stolen vehicle from Tampa ended in Gainesville on Tuesday morning, causing major traffic delays during the height of the morning commute.

According to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, Florida Highway Patrol was pursuing a stolen box truck from Tampa. The vehicle was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes on Interstate 75.

FHP requested assistance from the Sheriff's Office when the pursuit entered Alachua County from Marion County. The driver got off at the Archer Road interchange, again traveling in the wrong direction, authorities said. He went through Butler Plaza and out to Southwest 34th Street, striking multiple vehicles, according to FHP.

The suspect bailed from the truck around the Piccadilly Apartments and Metro Diner area of Southwest 34th Street and was taken into custody, FHP said.

Authorities have identified the driver as 33-year-old Brandon J. Baker.  A check of the Florida Department of Corrections records indicates Baker was released from prison just eight months ago after serving two and a half years on drug and weapons charges.

Alachua County Sheriff's Office says multiple law enforcement vehicles were damaged during the chase and efforts to stop the driver.  They also say at least two civilian vehicles were damaged in the process.  Despite that, there were no reports of injuries to police or bystanders.

Traffic around the Archer Road and Southwest 34th Street area caused a major traffic clog, backing vehicles up for miles as law enforcement worked to end the chase and clean-up the resulting wreckage.

The commute came to a crawl while 34th Street was closed and traffic detoured around the crash site.  The delays and detours definitely caused area residents to be late for work, appointments and likely impacted some people's ability to vote this morning at a precinct that could not be accessed on 34th Street while it was blocked off to traffic.  All roads were reopened by around 10 a.m.


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