OPD officer injured in crashes involving two fatalities

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Posted August 27, 2023 | By Andy Fillmore, andy@ocalagazette.com

A 44-year-old man who fled after he struck and killed a pedestrian Saturday night on Southwest 17th Street later died after he crashed into an Ocala Police Department (OPD) vehicle involved in his pursuit, causing serious injuries to the officer, according to an OPD spokesman.

The events unfolded after 10:26 p.m. as OPD officers were working at the scene of a crash at Southwest 17th Street and South Pine Avenue.

Kristopher Kent Winningham

Kristopher Kent Winningham, 44, traveling eastbound on Southwest 17th Street, “sped through the intersection and struck a parked patrol vehicle and a pedestrian,” a press release from OPD Public Information Officer Jeffrey Walczak stated.

The pedestrian, who later died in the hospital, was identified in the press release as James Thompson Jr., 26.

After striking the pedestrian, Winningham continued east on Maricamp Road as a pursuit began. Winningham then struck an OPD vehicle parked in the median in the 3000 block of southeast Maricamp Road near First Baptist Church of Ocala, driven by an officer preparing to deploy tire flattening stop sticks, according to the press release.

“The hit-and-run driver collided head-on with the officer’s patrol car while the officer was inside, and appeared to be intentional. The officer sustained serious injuries and was rushed to the hospital,” the press release stated.

The condition of the hospitalized OPD officer, whose identity had not been released as of Sunday afternoon, was described as “serious but stable.”

The OPD press release stated their “hearts break” for the family of the pedestrian and asked for “thoughts and prayers” for the injured officer.

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