OKEECHOBEE – On Friday afternoon, April 19, a Pahokee man allegedly led law enforcement on a chase through downtown Okeechobee, almost causing multiple collisions before finally crashing into the bollards protecting the generator at the Okeechobee City Fire Department and then into the generator itself before finally stopping. According to the police report, Okeechobee Police Department Officer Raul Marrero responded to a call pertaining to a reckless driver traveling westbound on State Road 70 East heading into the city, followed by Deputy Bryan Holden of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office.
Officer Marrero was told the suspect vehicle was a teal pickup truck with front end damage, and he spotted the vehicle around the 1300 block of State Road 70 East, but when he activated his siren and lights, the driver did not stop and instead, took evasive action straddling the center lane of the highway from the 1200 block to the 900 block. As they approached the signal at Eighth Avenue, this slowed the driver down, and Officer Marrero attempted to block his exit by taking the turning lane, but the driver reportedly edged his car forward trying to make the other cars move, and the vehicle in front of him moved out of his way to avoid being hit. The driver continued toward the patrol car as if to hit it, but at the last minute, he went behind it and the chase began again.
At the 700 block, he reportedly drove against oncoming traffic in another attempt to elude capture, but by this time, Sgt. Skip Eddings had joined the chase. Officer Marrero attempted to slow the vehicle down by getting in front of him and slowing his own vehicle down. By the 400 block, they almost had him stopped when he once again turned into oncoming traffic causing the oncoming vehicles to stop suddenly to avoid collision.
Finally, the vehicle entered the City Hall parking lot, and Deputy Hayles, Sgt. Eddings and Officer Marrero followed him into the lot. Officer Marrero used his vehicle to block the exit to the lot, and the driver reportedly tried to make him move by driving toward him, but when he saw that he was not going to move, he jerked his vehicle to the left at the last minute and hit the bollards protecting the fire department’s generator and then hit the generator itself, which finally caused the vehicle to stop.
The driver was identified as Genaro Medrano, 41. There was reportedly a strong odor of alcohol coming from his body, and an open bottle of cold beer was spilled on the seat and floorboard of the truck. Medrano refused treatment by EMS and was taken to the Okeechobee County Jail. He was charged with DUI with property damage, fleeing and eluding at high speed with no regard, aggravated assault on law enforcement and driving without a license. Bond was set at $60,000.