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High speed chase "fun" for driver, dangerous to deputies

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Otter Creek man faces four charges plus traffic ticket

By Lou Elliott Jones

 An Otter Creek man who led officers of the Alachua and Levy County officers on a chase at speeds in excess of 100 mph, hit a rescue vehicle and nearly sideswiped three deputies in the process, declared the episode “fun.”

                  The Levy County Sheriff’s Office has declared it three counts of aggravated assault on law enforcement officers and fleeing and attempting to elude at high speed — that’s one misdemeanor and three felony charges ± not to mention a traffic citation for running a red light, too.

                  Philip White Pennypacker, 22, of Southwest Ellzey Road, Otter Creek, was arrested after the chase that started in Alachua County when the blue mustang he was driving struck a rescue truck and a pedestrian around 7 p.m.

                  The chase by Alachua County Sheriff’s deputies continued down State Road 24 and was joined by Deputy Joseph Sabbag after it crossed into Levy County.

                  Sabbag put down “stop sticks,” a device laid across the road which puncture tires on vehicles, about 50 yards from the intersection of SR 24 and County Road 337, when the Mustang approached, the car went onto the shoulder to avoid the device, struck Sabbag’s vehicle and the deputy feared he would be run over, according to the report.

                  The Mustang continued on SR 24 toward Otter Creek. Sabbag got into his vehicle and caught up with the Alachua deputies following the Mustang. They dropped off and Sabbag took over the pursuit that reached 120 mph as they approached the intersection of CR 24 and U.S. Highway 19 at Otter Creek.

                  At the intersection, according to Sabbag’s report, the Mustang did not slow down for the red light; instead it slowed to turn south on US 19 and head toward Gulf Hammock and Inglis. “The driver continually pulled up to the rear of civilian traffic swerving at the last moment to keep from striking them,” Sabbag wrote in his report.

                  At Horse Hole Mud Bog at Lebanon Station, Deputy Robert Cannon laid out another strong of stop sticks across the road when the Mustang repeated the earlier tactic, swerving, avoiding the sticks and nearly hitting Cannon. The car continued on at about 115 mph, Sabbag said in the report.

                  At that point Deputy Kevin Kinik took over the lead in the pursuit and Sabbag became the second car in the chase with the Mustang leading them into Inglis city limits at 110 mph.

                  The Mustang turned onto State Road 40 headed west and turned again onto County Road 40A swinging wide and nearly hitting Sheriff’s Sgt. Perry Ott before re-emerging into US 19 heading north towards Gulf Hammock, according to the report.

                  The chase ended 6.6 miles later when the car ran out of fuel and the driver got out of the vehicle with his hands in the air.

“Pennypacker was smiling and advised me that this had been ‘fun’,” Sabbag’s report said. After being advised of his rights, Sabbag’s report said Pennypacker said he was running from deputies because he was “tipsy.”

                  “He knew he had struck the rescue vehicle and swerved at deputies. Pennypacker told Sgt. Strand that he wasn’t trying to hurt anyone though. Pennypacker advised me that he had watched a lot of cop shows and ‘maybe’ that’s why ‘I ran’,” Sabbag’s report said.

                  Pennypacker was cited for running the red light at SR 24 and US 19 at Otter Creek.

                  He is out on $30,000 bond.