It started with an apparent seat belt violation.
Chauncey McCray, 24, was at the wheel of a rented blue Toyota Camry, driving south on U.S. 1 around 1 p.m. When Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy Seth Green pulled up in a parallel lane, he noticed that McCray was not wearing a seat belt. The deputy slowed to get behind McCray’s car and initiate a traffic stop.
At first McCray, of 11 Kannapolis Place in Palm Coast, slowed as well. He was at the wheel of his sister’s car–she had rented it that day, she would later tell authorities–and was supposed to be on his way to pick up her child from school. But he then sped up, turning onto Kankakee Trail.
“He launched his car through the swale and across the driveway almost striking the homeowner in the driveway,” the deputy reported, “before continuing south at high speed. There was no chase, but residents and other deputies observed the vehicle driving recklessly down Kathleen trail, according to the deputy, then on Belle Terre Boulevard, then on State Road 100 eastbound, where a deputy deployed a tire-puncturing device. The Toyota struck a driveway, went airborne, drove on to cross Seminole Woods Boulevard and Memorial Medical Parkway against red lights before merging into the southbound lanes of I-95. As he was speeding away, McCray called his sister and told her what was happening.
“The vehicle was suspected to have severe damage due to an oil spill after going airborne. This was believed to cause catastrophic vehicle damage, but the vehicle continued to operate,” the deputy reported. As other deputies observed the car on 95, they saw it “crossing all lanes of travel which was heavily occupied by vehicle traffic.” The Toyota then sideswiped a semi truck, lost control, and struck the highway’s center guard rail.
Based on body camera footage from the scene, McCray was initially unresponsive when he was handcuffed and positioned on the ground next to the vehicle, and appeared unable to sit up: he had fractured his neck in two places. He was transported to Halifax, where he remains.
A deputy searching the vehicle found a .40 caliber firearm with a magazine containing 10 rounds of ammunition. Since McCray is a convicted felon, his being in possession of a firearm would result in a second-degree felony charge. The deputy also found cocaine, fentanyl, oxymorphone and other prescription pills, and a bank card that did not belong to him. There were two digital scales in the vehicle, typically used to weigh drugs.
McCray was charged with Aggravated Fleeing with Serious Injury, Trafficking Fentanyl, Trafficking Oxycodone, Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, Possession of Ammunition by a Convicted Felon, Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Sell, Possession of Marijuana, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He was also cited for running a red light, not wearing a seat belt, running a stop sign, and fleeing and eluding with serious bodily injury.
The semi truck’s driver was not injured.
Eleven years ago, Chauncey McCray was a student at Buddy Taylor Middle School, enrolled in the district’s highly regarded mentoring program. He was arrested and convicted of trafficking cocaine in 2015, was sentenced to probation and arrested again two years later on a pot-trafficking charge, though that charge was dropped.