Missing Fla. teen found in La., rescued after 40-mile chase

A 16-year-old Florida girl reported missing a week ago is recovering from stab wounds in a Lafayette hospital after the sex offender she was traveling with led law enforcement officers on a 40-mile chase along Interstate 10 late Wednesday, authorities said.

“She’s in guarded, but stable condition,” Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi said. “It was critical last night.”

The chase began after 10 p.m., authorities said. A witness recognized the girl at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete and contacted law enforcement.

“A person just happened to see it on some newscast they hardly ever watched and recognized the girl,” Iberville Chief Deputy Stephen Engolio said.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa, Fla. had reported Ashley Lyon, of Valrico, missing since 4 p.m. June 11 and likely in the company of registered sexual offender Steven Patrick Myers, 41, of 6801 N. Dormany Road in Plant City, Fla.

As soon as a deputy pulled into the Tiger Truck Stop parking lot, Myers took off with Lyon, racing east along Interstate 10, Engolio said.

During the chase, Myers purposely hit four cars and swerved in front of 18-wheelers, Stassi said.

“It appears he had stabbed the victim multiple times, probably during the chase,” Engolio said.

St. Martin deputies, Lafayette police officers and Louisiana State Police troopers assisted in the pursuit, using road spikes to flatten Myer’s tires and finally stop him, Stassi said.

“He did every thing he could to get away,” the sheriff said. “He rode on the rims until the truck wouldn’t move any more; then he wanted to fight after that.”

Lafayette Police said in a press release that Myers emerged from his vehicle with a knife and approached officers, who used a taser and a police dog to disarm and apprehend him.

Myers was also hospitalized, though at a different one than Lyon. “He has what we believe to be some self-inflicted stab wounds, dog bites and he was tased,” Stassi said.

Lafayette described Myers as listed in serious but stable condition and said he would face multiple counts including attempted murder.

Stassi credited citizen awareness and action as key to rescuing the girl.

“I can have a policeman on every corner, but we still need the eyes and ears of the citizens to be observant,” the sheriff said. “What this young lady did and the people at the Tiger Truck stop did may have saved this girls life. There’s no telling what would have happened if he had gotten away.”