Florida Keys

He led police on a wild chase to the Keys. Along the way, he swallowed 20 crack rocks, cops say

Mark Edward Welch
Mark Edward Welch

A Delray Beach man led police on a wild chase from Florida City to the Florida Keys Tuesday night. He ingested 20 crack cocaine rocks along the way, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Monroe deputies received a call from Florida City police around 8 p.m. that they were chasing a black Jeep Liberty down the 18 Mile Stretch of U.S. 1, which leads to the Keys. The Jeep was involved in hit-and-run crashes, according to Deputy Joel Torres’ report.

Sgt. Orlando Alvarez set up at mile marker 109 and Torres set up at mile marker 108. Alvarez radioed Torres that he was right behind the Jeep, but the driver was not stopping. Torres laid down a strip of spikes that popped the car’s two front tires. The driver, Mark Edward Welch, 50, stopped the car at mile marker 107 “at the crest of Jewfish Creek Bridge,” Torres stated.

Welch initially refused to get out of the car. He hopped into the passenger seat and “thrashed about as though he were attempting to conceal or retrieve something from under the front passenger seat,” Torres wrote.

He eventually got out of the car and deputies cuffed him. He told police there was a woman passenger in the car, but there wasn’t, according to Torres. He also made “multiple spontaneous statements” before he was placed in the back of Torres’ patrol car, including that he was on his way to North Carolina to visit his father.

According to the arrest report, “Welch’s speech was rapid, shallow, and unintelligible. He had copious snot and drool coming from his mouth and nose, so much so that the front of his shirt was soaking. Welch appeared to have urinated in his shorts at some point as well.”

Welch told Torres he was partying with his girlfriend and a friend all day.

Torres took Welch to the Plantation Key courthouse’s “DUI room,” where people suspected of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol are evaluated. Welch kept “hacking and coughing,” and when Torres asked him why, he said he was trying to cough up the 20 crack rocks he ingested while being chased.

After he said this, Torres looked down and saw a crack rock on the floor at Welch’s feet, according to the report.

Torres then took Welch to Mariners Hospital to be medically evaluated. He was cleared after midnight and taken back to Plantation Key. He took a breath test that came back negative for alcohol, according to the report.

Deputies booked Welch on felony cocaine possession, felony fleeing and eluding police and misdemeanor DUI and drug equipment possession. Torres did not arrest him on an evidence tampering charge because it wasn’t clear where along the 18 Mile Stretch, which covers both Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, he started swallowing the crack, Torres wrote in his report.

Welch remained in jail Wednesday with no bond information immediately available.