Police: Drunk driver kills popular chef in St. Pete crash

St. Petersburg, Florida -- A man fleeing police early Saturday hit two men crossing the street -- killing a popular chef walking home -- and was later found at a bar.

At dawn, friends of Aaron Jerome Davis who worked at The Kitchen St. Pete made a memorial at the crash scene.

About 2 a.m., Jason Mitchell was driving his 2015 Dodge Charger a high rate of speed, eastbound on 4th Avenue North, after exiting the Interstate 275, according to St. Petersburg police.

The police DUI squad saw him and attempted to stop the vehicle as it slowed to turn onto 2nd Street.

Mitchell accelerated at a very high rate, clearly indicating that he was not going to stop. The officers immediately shut off their emergency equipment.

The Dodge continued accelerating southbound, running the red light at 3rd Avenue North. Two pedestrians, Aaron Jerome Davis and Brian Lee LaFrance, were crossing 2nd Street in the north crosswalk of Central Avenue.

The pedestrians had the green light and the crossing signal on the pedestrian control. Witnesses were stopped in the southbound curb lane, just north of the crosswalk. The Dodge passed the witnesses, running the red light and striking the two pedestrians.

YOU CAN HELP:Donate to help wife and child of Davis

SECOND OPTION:400 Beach collecting for family

"It was a huge bang," said Marcus Byer who witnessed the crash.

LaFrance was sideswiped and spun onto the pavement. Davis was projected onto the hood and windshield, before vaulting over the roof. Davis, a chef at The Kitchen St. Pete,

came to rest on the west sidewalk of 2nd Street.

"It was heartbreaking," said Byer, who says Davis was his friend. "To see who it was and what he meant to downtown St. Pete. If I could, I would rather trade places."

Mitchell drove off the southwest corner of the intersection, striking two concrete light pillars, ripping the right front wheel off of the vehicle. The Dodge continued scraping along, coming to final rest just prior to 1st Avenue South.

Mitchell and his passenger exited the vehicle and fled west on 1st Avenue South, then south in the alley just west of McNulty Station.

With the assistance of club staff, the two subjects were apprehended at Push Ultra Lounge.

LaFrance was transported to Bayfront Health St Petersburg in critical condition and has since been stabilized. He was released from the hospital on Sunday. Davis was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Mitchell has been charged with vehicular homicide, DUI manslaughter, aggravated fleeing and eluding, leaving the scene of a crash involving death, and DUI serious bodily injury.

While in custody in the Breath Testing Center of police headquarters, Mitchell attempted to escape and was quickly apprehended.

Mitchell has bee arrested before for grand theft auto, fleeing police, giving a false name to law enforcement, and possession of marijuana, cocaine, crack.

At dawn, the outpouring of support and condolences for Davis were seen at the crash scene and online, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times.

A candle and flowers were added to the crash scene that also was wrapped in yellow police tape.

According to a Facebook post, Davis was on headed home from his job as a chef at The Kitchen St. Pete. The post was by 400 Beach Seafood and Tap House, where his wife, Anastasia Granucci Davis, is executive chef.

Her employer posted a link to announcing that C1 Bank branches are accepting donations for a fund dedicated to Anastasia, who is due to deliver the couple's second child this week.


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