A brother and sister driving back from seeing a display of Christmas lights at Daytona International Speedway in Florida were killed Tuesday night when a man fleeing the police at speeds over 110 m.p.h. drove against traffic on southbound Interstate 95 and struck their S.U.V. head-on, the authorities said.
Moments before the crash, which also killed the fleeing driver, the siblings — an 18-year-old woman and a 21-year-old man who were following family members in another car — missed their exit onto Interstate 4, said Mike Chitwood, the Volusia County sheriff.
The fleeing driver had 50 previous arrests, no driver’s license and had been incarcerated eight times in state prison, the sheriff said at a news conference where he angrily flipped through a thick sheath of papers that he said was the man’s 200-page rap sheet. “Fifty prior arrests,” he said. “I don’t know what to say.”
None of those killed were identified by the authorities on Wednesday, although Sheriff Chitwood said the siblings’ S.U.V. was registered in Wisconsin.
“We see so many terrible things in this job,” Sheriff Chitwood said in a statement posted to Facebook. “But in looking at the faces of all the deputies, troopers, firefighters and paramedics on scene last night, I believe this tragedy was especially difficult for even the most experienced of us to process.”
The crash, which happened around 7 p.m., is being investigated by the Florida Highway Patrol, which did not immediately respond to phone calls and emails requesting comment on Wednesday.
The car chase started after the suspect, a 47-year-old man from Orlando, was spotted in Flagler County, just north of Volusia, in a 2017 Nissan Altima that had been stolen at gunpoint from a pizza delivery driver several days earlier in Orlando, Sheriff Chitwood said.
The suspect fled from Flagler County deputies and got on Interstate 95 heading south with headlights off at more than 110 m.p.h. At one point, he turned around and drove north in southbound lanes against oncoming traffic, which is what caused the fatal crash, Sheriff Chitwood said.
Two children were in the car with the siblings: their 13-year-old brother and a 17-year-old female cousin. Both were hospitalized with serious injuries but were in stable condition, Andrew Gant, a spokesman for the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, said.
“I think this is going to stay with a lot of people for a long time,” Sheriff Chitwood said.