MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB) — A high-speed chase in Florida on Wednesday led to the arrest of a man suspected of human trafficking, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies investigating an active burglary saw a man possibly fitting the description given by witnesses leave a residence in a car that was later found to have children inside.
The suspect, identified as Domingo Morales Hamilton Fernando, “rapidly and recklessly accelerated in attempts to evade the investigators,” according to deputies.
A high-speed chase ended when Fernando lost control of the vehicle as it went off the road and struck a stand of trees, deputies said. The vehicle spun, flipped and landed upright on the shoulder of the road.
Fernando exited the vehicle through the front passenger side window, while a 17-year-old girl exited through the rear passenger side door. A 2-year-old girl was found standing up in the back seat, and a 3-year-old boy who had been ejected from the vehicle emerged from the woods.
“The presence of the children in the vehicle was not known to investigators until the vehicle wrecked,” deputies said. “Sheriff Lou Roberts would like to make it known on behalf of the pursuing investigator that if it were known that children were present in the car prior to the pursuit, he would not have given chase.”
Deputies added that “miraculously, the children were unharmed as a result of the incident.”
Fernando, who suffered head and face injuries, was flown to a hospital in critical condition.
Fernando was identified through the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be in the United States illegally. He currently has an outstanding final order for removal from the United States.
Deputies said Fernando is suspected of being involved in human trafficking and smuggling into the U.S. A warrant has been issued for his arrest upon his release from the hospital.