INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A 21-year-old truck driver who slammed into a deputy’s patrol car over the weekend and kept driving, turned himself in to the sheriff’s office Monday night, officials said.
Merrit Teague went to the sheriff’s jail lobby and told a deputy, “I was involved in a hit-and-run (early Sunday). I was driving the truck involved in the accident, and I just left,” an incident report shows. Teague, described by deputies as a farmer, later admitted he stole the white Dodge truck from Blue Cypress Grain, a company he works at located south of State Road 60 and west of Interstate 95.
“The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office is grateful for the help from the public. The fact that he turned himself in shows the power of social media,” sheriff’s spokesman Maj. Eric Flowers said. “We will continue to leverage social media to solve crimes and make our community safer.”
Teague’s boss, who is also the owner of the truck, said he was aware of the crash because he saw it on “Vero News,” reports show. Teague told his boss he hid the truck at a warehouse located at the company property.
Deputies arrested Teague, of the 1800 block of Tatnall Square, on a charge of leaving the scene of a crash involving injury without rendering aid. Teague was held Tuesday at the Indian River County Jail without bond.
Monday afternoon, deputies issued out a public alert for help in finding the driver of a white Dodge flatbed utility truck that ran a red flashing light before striking the patrol car. The truck had a black front bumper and black fenders and a headache rack – a rack that protects passengers from cargo in the truck bed.
Video provided by Indian River County Sheriff’s Office
The early Sunday crash left Deputy Andrew Ward and a man under arrest, 37-year-old Jerry Shelley, of Vero Beach, with minor injuries. Both were taken by ambulance to Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital and were released Sunday morning, Flowers said.
Ward arrested Shelley on unrelated charges just before 2 a.m. Sunday, officials said. Ward was driving Shelley to the Indian River County Jail when the truck struck the front driver’s side of Ward’s patrol vehicle at the intersection of 10th Avenue and 21st Street, deputies said.
The impact totaled Ward’s vehicle, causing most of the front to be mangled and leaving $20,000 in damages, reports show.
The truck continued driving northbound on 10th Avenue. The patrol car’s dashboard camera caught a glimpse of the truck just before impact.
Teague had minor swelling and bruising to his right eye from his face striking the steering wheel in the wreck, authorities said.
Deputies later found the vehicle at the warehouse located at Blue Cypress Grain, reports show. The truck was towed to the sheriff’s office.
Teague turned himself in to authorities Monday night. Teague has an arraignment at 8:45 a.m. Oct. 4, court records show.
Photos contributed by Indian River County Sheriff’s Office
This story will be updated.