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BREAKING: Double Fatality After Vehicle Pursuit, Suspect and Victim Perish

UPDATE: 3:10 P.M. – The Florida Highway Patrol has identified the female victim as Laura Billingsley, 23, of Webster. The suspect who also died in crash is identified as Tony Lavon Warthen, 37, of Brooksville.

UPDATE: 7:13 A.M. – According to a media release from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy was traveling eastbound on Cortez Blvd when the suspect driver nearly struck the deputy and another vehicle head-on.

The suspect driver continued west in the eastbound lanes as the deputy turned around and radioed for assistance. About a minute after the incident, the suspect driver collided head-on with another vehicle near the Ridge Manor Campground. Both drivers died at the scene.

The Florida Highway Patrol has taken over the investigation.
ORIGINAL REPORT:

RIDGE MANOR – A head-on collision claimed the lives of two people, after a short pursuit involving a Sheriff’s Deputy came to an end near the intersection of Cortez Blvd and McKethan Road.


According to sources, a white Dodge Challenger fled at a high-rate of speed, westbound in the wrong direction of travel, and collided with a second vehicle near the intersection. The pursuing deputy was not involved in the collision and is not injured.
Fire Rescue is on scene and has confirmed that the suspect driver suffered fatal injuries after he was ejected from the vehicle. One victim in the second vehicle is also confirmed deceased.
Cortez Blvd is expected to be closed in both directions for an extended period of time.
We will bring more on this story as it develops.
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  • Tony Lavon Warthen is a murder, repeat offender, a POS that should have been in jail for the rest of his life. Dear Society, Stop letting criminals out of jail so that they can do what they do best – kill innocent people.

    Sunday, 9 July 2017, 8:19 am
  • awful to hear of this. our roads are dangerous you can sit at almost any intersection in hernando county and in an hour see numerous people go through the stop signs and red lights. plus the numerous people on drugs and drunk puts it in the thousands daily that are impaired driving. Plus the penalties and fines are apparently not that persuasive. People drive on suspended and revoked in the thousands daily in this county. Unfortunately its a big gamble to drive. This family will never be the same. hug your loved ones today bc you never know.

    Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 10:36 am
  • So sorry Judith!! I will pray that you, your family and sister’s friends get through this.

    Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 1:34 am
  • Judith, my heart goes out to you. I was I have kids in that age bracket — 22 to 26, and I was thinking about how horrible it would be to lose one of them in any way, but esp in something as needless as this horrible accident. Praying for you all.

    Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:17 pm
  • I think that Judith said it very well her sister had a lot of life ahead of her and it was stolen from her and her family My heart breaks for all involved I too lost my sister due to a car accident that was on no way her fault. This leaves a hole in your heart that can’t be filled. My thoughts and prayers are with the family. ??????

    Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:19 pm
  • He found his “Vanishing Point”. Too bad innocent people have to die and those left behind have to suffer because of an idiot.

    Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 4:14 pm
    • Well, that innocent victim was my Little Sister. She had just celebrated her 23rd Birthday a week an a half ago. She had so much to live for. She had a smile for everyone. With the sweetest soul. She has left behind many, many people who loved an adored her. This was a senseless act that should of been avoided. RIP Laura Billingsley.. We love u.??

      Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 5:43 pm
  • White Dodge Challenger? Perhaps the guy was wanting to relive a classic 1971 movie. Only in the movie the only person that was killed was the guy in the white Challenger. My prayers to the innocent victims family….

    Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 3:18 pm
  • I am deeply sadden by this tragic incident, but I think Tony got zooted and decided ” he was tired of dancing with the devil” so he wanted to end it. Sadly, he mad a really horrible decision that took the life of this innocent woman.

    Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 3:10 pm
  • If we could switch the innocent victim for “John Q”, this would have been a win-win.

    Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 1:57 pm
  • Prayers to the innocent victims family

    Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:31 am
  • there are always going to be who will blame the police for this. What did you want him to do? Keep going and forget about the druggie who has no regard for human life, not even his own? It’s people like you who think with a narrow minded brain and can’t see the picture beyond. Oh sure, if it was your son that was the innocent victim…then the light dawns! Open your eyes and see this in the light of day. The police are there to protect your sorry even though you don’t see it!

    Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:11 am
    • I did not read anywhere in this post about anyone being a druggie. Do you have info on this ?? My prayers go out to family of innocent victim. Even I have to admit officer was DOING HIS JOB TO PROTECT AS MANY INNOCENTS AS POSSIBLE. The officer had a split second to make a decision. He made the call to try and block this fool driver (assistance ) and then turned around to follow. In no way did the officer create or cause this problem.

      Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 2:41 pm
  • Look at the bright side, at least he is dead and won’t take up any more court time, he won’t hurt anyone else, and justice has been served.

    Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 9:43 am
    • And i suppose the other Bright side is the other victim could have been one of your Family members ? would things have been so Bright to then ? JERK your a True A**Hole.

      Have A God Blessed Day
      TheWatcher

      Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:57 am
  • He was going in the wrong direction all most hit deputy head on. So what he was suppose to not chase him. Really how about putting the blame where it belongs.

    Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 9:08 am
  • Prayers for both victims involved and their families..

    Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 8:30 am
  • I know we all just had this conversation about the last time our need for speed HCSO decided to disregard the public safety. The same public there supposed to protect, I sure hope this suspect had planned a attack or just murdered someone. Or the boys need a lot more training the would be on public access t.v

    Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 5:05 am
    • People like you that can’t read are a threat to the gene pool. The individual was already almost taking people out, including the sheriff’s deputy. Do us all a favor and go walk in traffic.

      Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 7:37 am
      • OMG … i just peed myself

        Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 6:20 pm
    • If you had read the details, you would have learned the suspect was already traveling fast and erratic and going the wrong way!
      Why be so quick to blame our deputies?
      They put their lives on the line every day and that is even for people like you!

      Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 8:16 am
      • Exactly!!! Thank you Bridget ❤?❤

        Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 5:09 pm
    • Are you kidding? You’re the reason people keep doing this behavior. All you just did was condone a criminal can get away with any crime as long as they run from the police. I hope he did commit a huge crime. Kinda stupid to kill yourself and someone else (innocent) for petty theft When all you had to do was pull over and admit you got caught. Good job. Do us all a favor and go back to being an unspoken dredge of society.

      Granted this sounds like a bit of drunk driving of someone with a record who would be arrested for a DUI.

      Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 8:25 am
    • Did you miss the part where it says the deputy turned around after nearly being struck head on by the suspect?

      “suspect driver nearly struck the deputy and another vehicle head-on.

      The suspect driver continued west in the eastbound lanes as the deputy turned around and radioed for assistance. About a minute after the incident, the suspect driver collided head-on with another vehicle”

      There was no high speed chase it was only a minute. The deputy probably hadn’t even caught up to the guy to chase him. Hcso does their job. Dont criticize unless you’re willing to wear the badge and do what they do daily.

      Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 8:47 am
    • Another idiot blaming deputies

      Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 11:29 am
    • Mr. John Q Public…please do us all a favor..shut up! The ONLY reason HCSO was involved was the jerk almost hit him head on! The victim was a very popular, well loved, and bright young lady. She had her life ripped away. She was taken from her loved ones..how about compassion instead of ignorance!!!!!

      Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 10:38 pm
  • Wow! While the fleeing suspect had it coming, the victim certainly didn’t. That goes to show you never know when your time is up. I feel so bad for the family of the victim, my prayers go out to them :'(

    Tom, do you have a description of the 2nd vehicle involved, (victim’s car)?

    Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 4:26 am
    • Fleeing suspect had it coming….wow. You better hope your kids don’t end up in the same situation.

      Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 3:03 pm
      • who in their right mind would want their kids to drive the wrong way and or flee law enforcement? smh people dont think

        Wednesday, 5 July 2017, 9:57 am

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