Driver arrested after Sheriff Whidden stops the vehicle

Thomas Leon Charles Ferguson

LABELLE — A Hendry County Sheriff’s Office press release stated that Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden helped stop a reckless driver on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 27, after the driver, 19-yr-old Thomas Leon Charles Ferguson, led them on a wild chase through neighborhoods and busy roadways.

Sergeant N. Echevarria had conducted a traffic stop on the small sedan. After the vehicle stopped Echevarria exited his vehicle and began approaching the car when the driver suddenly took off.

Ferguson took deputies through quiet neighborhoods and recklessly ran traffic lights and stop signs, cutting in and out of traffic; at one point using the right turn lane at Ben Moore Drive and West State Road 80 to travel around heavy traffic, using the south sidewalk, he cut back onto State Road 80 between vehicles. At one point deputies deployed stop sticks, deflating the front passenger side tire; that didn’t stop him.

As the driver proceeded onto the road way between vehicles, he lost control and spun 180 degrees.

He continued on at the intersection of Fort Denaud Road and onto State Road 80. Sheriff Whidden was prepared to call off the pursuit when he witnessed the driver turn and travel eastbound in westbound lanes of State Road 80 against traffic. Ferguson caused several motorists to run off the roadway and onto the shoulder of West State Road 80. The driver continued, making a U-turn traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes of traffic and intentionally attempted to strike a deputy’s patrol car.

The Sheriff took lead of the pursuit. Due to the total disregard for other drivers and the aggressive behavior from Ferguson, Sheriff Whidden utilized his F150 pursuit vehicle to force the vehicle off the roadway immobilizing it. The driver fled on foot and was later apprehended by Sheriff Whidden and deputies.

Ferguson was taken into custody and transported to the Hendry County Jail. He was charged with fleeing and eluding law enforcement officers at high speed, assault with intent to commit a felony, resisting officer obstructing without violence. He is currently being held on $160,000 bond.

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