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Suspected human trafficker, smuggler hospitalized after high-speed chase in Jackson County

Photo: Jackson County Sheriff's Office
Posted at 9:25 PM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-05 21:33:04-04

JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — After a high-speed chase, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, with the assistance of ACI and JCI K-9 tracking teams and the Florida Highway Patrol, issued a warrant for Domingo Morales Hamilton Fernando, a suspected burglar, human trafficker and smuggler who is in the United States illegally.

On Wednesday, August 5, members of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office responded to a burglary call in the Dogwood Heights Community.

While patrolling the scene near Watson Street, deputies saw a male, who fit the physical and clothing description of the suspect given by witnesses, leave a home in a car.

Deputies were watching the vehicle to further identify the subject, when the driver, later identified as Domingo Morales Hamilton Fernando, rapidly and recklessly accelerated in attempts to evade the investigators, according to the report.

The JCSO report says "Fernando did with willful and wanton disregard for the safety of the motoring public run through multiple stop signs at major intersections in the area of Hwy 71 near CVS, and travel at speeds well in excess of the maximum posted speed limit on Hwy 90 towards the Chipola River bridge."

Fernando turned onto Old US Road where deputies attempted to initiate a traffic stop and say he disregarded all signals to stop and drove at a high speed towards marked units working the burglary scene.

Shortly after passing through the intersection of Dogwood Drive and Old Greenwood Road, Fernando lost control of the vehicle as it went off of the right shoulder of the road, struck a series of trees, spun around, flipped over and landed upright on the left shoulder of the road.

Fernando then exited the vehicle through the front passenger side window and a 17-year-old female got out of the car using the rear passenger side door, according to the report.

JCSO says after taking Fernando into custody, a 2-year-old female was found standing up in the back seat of the car he had been driving.

While removing the 2-year-old from the car, a 3-year-old male emerged from the woods that had unknowingly been ejected from the vehicle, the report said.

According to the report, investigators were not made aware children were present until the vehicle wrecked. Sheriff Roberts would like to make it known on behalf of the pursuing investigator that if it were known that children were present in the car prior to the pursuit, he would not have given chase.

The report states the children were unharmed as a result of the incident but were taken to Southeast Alabama Medical Center as a precaution.

Fernando sustained trauma to his head and face as a result of the crash and was Life-Flighted to Southeast Alabama Medical Center, where he is in critical condition.

Subsequently, Fernando was identified through the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be in the United States illegally and currently has an outstanding Final Order for Removal from the United States. JCSO says Fernando was avoiding apprehension on this order.

According to the report, agents referred to Fernando as a “bad dude,” saying that he is suspected of being involved in Human Trafficking and smuggling into the United States illegally.

A warrant has been issued for Fernando’s arrest upon his release from medical care.

Jackson County Sheriff Roberts would like to extend his gratitude toward the Florida Highway Patrol, the ACI/JCI K9 Teams, and Jackson County Fire and Rescue units for their expedited response and professionalism displayed during this incident.

Sheriff Roberts encourages anyone with any information about any illegal activity to contact the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office at 850-482-9624 or Chipola Crime Stoppers at 850-526-5000 or toll-free at 888-804-8494.

Tips can also be submitted online at crimestoppersofjacksoncountyfl.com