Florida Keys

Florida woman’s wild ride into Key West causes car crashes but only minor injuries

A Florida woman went on a wild ride into Key West on Friday morning, crashing her SUV into six vehicles — including a Key West patrol car — near the entrance to the island.

Jessica Ruth Vanhorn, 32, of Ruskin, faces a number of charges related to her reckless driving, police said.

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Monroe County Sheriff

She was still in jail Friday evening without bond, according to the Monroe sheriff’s office. She is due to appear at the Monroe County Courthouse Jan. 10 at 8:45 a.m.

No serious injuries were reported and despite what some witnesses said, there were no shots fired during the crash, a police spokeswoman said.

A photo posted by Linda Pugh showed two Key West officers standing outside an SUV with guns drawn. Other photos posted on Facebook showed a maroon SUV having run over signs.

Vanhorn was driving “exceedingly fast and recklessly” on U.S. 1 near Boca Chica Key just after 10 a.m. Friday, police said.

An officer tried to pull her over but Vanhorn kept going and continued toward Key West.

“In the interest of public safety, the officer did not engage in a chase, but instead radioed ahead, asking police to be ready to stop the vehicle when it came into the city,” police spokeswoman Alyson Crean said.

When Vanhorn’s vehicle reached the Cow Key Channel Bridge, she rear-ended a vehicle, then struck a Key West Police vehicle and continued south, striking two more vehicles at the intersection that leads into Key West known as the Triangle.

Vanhorn’s car then jumped the median, knocked out two signs, then struck two more vehicles on North Roosevelt Boulevard awaiting the left turn traffic light, Crean said.

Vanhorn’s car finally came to a stop but she refused to get out and officers tried to break out the car’s window.

“Some witnesses heard the banging on the glass and thought they heard gunfire,” Crean said. “However, there was no gunfire during the incident.”

Vanhorn was eventually removed from the car through the driver’s door.

She was taken to Lower Keys Medical Center with minor injuries, then taken to the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island. Among the felony charges she faces are fleeing and eluding, reckless driving, four counts of hit and run, driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license and seven counts of driving under the influence with property damage.

Drivers of the vehicles struck by Vanhorn suffered only minor injuries, and no one was taken to the hospital, Crean said.

The process of rescuing victims if they get trapped after a car crash can be difficult. This is how firefighters do it.

Gwen Filosa covers Key West and the Lower Florida Keys for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald and lives in Key West. She was part of the staff at the New Orleans Times-Picayune that in 2005 won two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Indiana University.
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