Deputies are searching for Rico Bernard Ransom, 21.
A deputy tried to stop a car for a broken taillight July 5 and ended up in a car chase that led to the recovery of a stolen car. The suspected thief — who's been in and out of jail repeatedly on charges including vehicle theft — had not been found as of the morning of July 6.
The incident began at about 7:30 p.m. July 5, when the deputy, patrolling westbound Palm Coast Parkway near the northbound Interstate 95 entrance ramp, noticed that a black Honda Civic had a cracked light that was emitting white light from the rear. The car's license plate was also obstructed, but the deputy could still read the number.
There appeared to be two people in the car, according to an arrest affidavit.
The deputy turned on his lights, but the car kept going and "began to maneuver lanes," according to the arrest affidavit.
Dispatch notified the deputy that the tag had been stolen in St. Johns County. The car had been reported stolen in Volusia County.
The car began to "swerve aggressively through traffic and began to flee," and the deputy turned on sirens and pursued until the intersection of Belle Terre Parkway and Palm Coast Parkway, when a Sheriff's Office sergeant cancelled the pursuit.
"I attempted to maintain visual contact of the vehicle as it approached the intersection of U.S. 1 and Palm Coast Parkway, but it fled at such a high rate I was unable to," the deputy wrote in the arrest affidavit.
Another deputy saw the car run the red light at Palm Coast Parkway and Pine Lakes Parkway and then crash at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Palm Coast Parkway, into the woodline.
It was empty when deputies got to it, but deputies set up a perimeter, and the deputy who'd pursued the car saw someone emerge from the woods — a 19-year-old woman.
The woman said she was the girlfriend of the driver, 21-year-old Rico Ransom, a Palm Coast resident.
She said Ransom had picked her up at her home in the Hammock and that they were on their way to the AT&T store when the deputy tried to stop the car. Ransom said, "Oh s---," and then fled, she said, according to the arrest affidavit.
When the car crashed, Ransom "climbed over her to exit the vehicle and began to run into the woods," according to a deputy's account of her statement. She couldn't keep up and didn't understand what was going on, so she returned to the crash scene to talk to deputies.
When a deputy asked her about the car and whether she knew it was stolen, she said she hadn't seen it before that day and didn't know it was stolen.
Deputies searched the area with dogs and the county's emergency helicopter, Fire Flight, but couldn't find Ransom.
Ransom has a string of arrests dating back to 2015 and has previously been convicted of burglary from a vehicle, vehicle theft and battery, among other charges, according to county court records. He was previously charged with armed carjacking, but the charge was dropped. He was charged with battery in April, and that case is still pending.