Officials: Driver in Turnpike cross-county chase fatally shoots self in Martin County

PALM CITY, Fla. (WSVN) — A registered sex offender who fled from the scene of a crash in Florida City led authorities in a dangerous chase across four counties that ended when he lost control of his car in Martin County and fatally shot himself, officials said.

According to Miami-Dade Police, it all began with a hit-and-run in the area of U.S. 1 and Southwest 336th Street, Saturday afternoon.

“It was a hit-and-run with injuries in Florida City,” said Martin County Sheriff William Snyder. “Miami-Dade Police Department picked that vehicle up, saw it, attempted a stop. The vehicle started running.”

Investigators said the suspect’s Chevy sedan took off and got on the Turnpike heading north.

Twitter users posted video of the pursuit, as Miami-Dade Police and Florida Highway Patrol zoomed by at a high rate of speed.

Units from Miami-Dade Police, Florida Highway Patrol, Broward Sheriff’s Office, Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and Martin County Sheriff’s Office pursued the Chevy northbound.

Officials said the suspect shot at officers through the rear windshield at some point during the pursuit. No officers were hurt.

Just before 6 p.m., the chase crossed Boynton Beach Boulevard.

Near mile marker 127 in Martin County, officials said, the suspect lost control of his car and hot into a 360-degree spin, at around 6:30 p.m.

“He drove it into a guardrail,” said Snyder.

Officers said they heard a gunshot shortly after. When they approached the vehicle, they found the driver slumped over the steering wheel and bleeding.

He was airlifted to an area hospital where he later died of what Snyder described as “a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Saturday night, a fleet of Miami-Dade Police cruisers were parked on the left shoulder, one behind the other, near the suspect’s car, as some officers re-fueled the squad cars for the long drive back to South Florida.

Officials have identified the suspect as Michael Sardinas of Hollywood, Florida. Sardinas, who was either 28 or 29 years old, had been on a felony release program and was listed as a “high-risk sex offender.”

Officers found two semi-automatic pistols inside the suspect’s Chevy.

Martin County Sheriff’s Office deputies shut down all northbound lanes near the Indiantown Road exit and continue to divert traffic. They urged drivers to avoid the area and seek alternate routes.

As of 11 p.m., the northbound lanes remained closed to traffic.

Authorities in Palm Beach had closed the Turnpike in both directions at the Okeechobee Boulevard exit but have since reopened to roadway.

Police continue to investigate.

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