SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Surveillance camera captured horrific moments at a Sarasota County 7-Eleven. The video shows a Tampa man crashing into a gas pump Sunday afternoon.
It gets worse. The suspect, Maurice Betard, Jr., had a passenger and his boys in the car. The boys are ages 1 and 5.
Betard, Jr., 28, was on the run from Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office deputies. The deputies tried to stop the suspect for a traffic violation.
Before the crash, Betard, Jr. allegedly told his passenger, “Please forgive me, man. I’m not going to jail tonight.”
That’s when, the passenger said, Betard, Jr. accelerated and started weaving in and out of traffic. The car then crashed into the gas pump.
Surveillance video shows the passenger and Betard, Jr. exiting the car. Betard, Jr. takes one of his children, hands him to the passenger, and then makes a run for it, the video reveals.
The accident was so bad that both children had to be airlifted to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. Family members told News Channel 8 both children underwent successful surgeries and returned home Monday afternoon.
News Channel 8 spoke with Betard, Jr.’s family and showed them the surveillance footage. “Oh, that’s what he did,” said Joseph Bridges, the children’s great-great grandfather.
Bridges expressed shock, saying he is disappointed Betard, Jr. left the children. “He don’t care nothing about them,” he said. “You know he don’t.”
The suspect took the cowardly way out, Bridges added. “Oh, he going to have to do his time. He know what he doing,” she said. “He has to come on and confess.”
The children’s grandmother, who did not want to be identified, said the children were being looked out for by a power much greater than any human being. “It was the blood of Jesus that covered them,” the grandma said. “That weren’t nothing but God.”
Other family members said Betard, Jr. better turn himself in before they get their hands on him.
Betard, Jr. is wanted by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office for this incident. He’s charged, in this case, with fleeing to elude, leaving the scene of an accident with injury and without rendering aid, and child neglect. He’s also wanted by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, charged with aggravated battery on a pregnant person.
The suspect has at least eight felony charges, with five felony convictions. He also has 11 misdemeanor charges, with six misdemeanor convictions.
If you know where Betard, Jr. is, call Det. Rafael Ortiz at 941-861-1712 or Crime Stoppers at 941-366-TIPS (8477). You can also go to www.sarasotacrimestoppers.com. If you call Crime Stoppers, you can remain anonymous.