Times Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — A 15-year-old boy who was a passenger in a car that was reported stolen after crashing into a tree in November died from his injuries early Sunday, according to police.
Alijah Armstead had been in a white Chevrolet Camaro that hit a dip in the road on 11th Avenue S near 40th Street before smashing into the tree Nov. 19, investigators said. A 14-year-old boy was behind the wheel.
While officers investigated, someone reported the Camaro as stolen.
The 14-year-old suffered serious injuries. No charges had been filed as of Tuesday. St. Petersburg Police spokeswoman Sandra Bentil said investigators were still reviewing evidence.
"The passenger dying is significant in that process," she said.
The Tampa Bay Times is not naming the 14-year-old because of his age and because he has not been charged with a crime. His family could not be reached Tuesday afternoon.
If the case is confirmed to have involved an auto theft, Armstead would be the ninth teen from Pinellas County to die in a little over two years in a car theft epidemic that has bedeviled local law enforcement. His criminal record does not include previous stolen car charges.
Teens in Pinellas joyride at high speeds across the county, frequently making off with vehicles that drivers leave unlocked with keys inside. The crisis was the subject of a Times series last year, "Hot Wheels," which described how children in an 18-month period here crashed stolen cars once every four days. Police arrested more juveniles in auto theft incidents in Pinellas than any other county in Florida.
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Three teens from Clearwater died in August when they crashed a stolen SUV at more than 100 mph on Tampa Road in Palm Harbor.
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Investigators did not describe Thursday how Armstead and the other boy came to be in the Camaro or what they were doing before the crash. The vehicle smashed into the tree in a front yard about 11:25 a.m. on Nov. 19, a Sunday. Emergency responders had to pull both boys from the wreckage.
The next morning, a large gash in the bark marked the spot where the car had hit.
Times senior researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Contact Zachary T. Sampson at [email protected] or (727) 893-8804.