Fear of returning to prison sparked deadly chase, man's family says

Minor fender-bender escalated into four-county, high-speed police chase

By Liane Morejon - Reporter

FLORIDA CITY, Fla. - Authorities described Michael Sardinas -- the 28-year-old who they said led them on a high-speed chase across four counties Saturday – as "a high-risk sex offender."

But to his father and stepmother, he was their son. He was a man with a troubled past who they say was working to stay on the straight and narrow after serving time in prison for sexual battery. 

"He’s a mechanic like his father. He had a job to start on Monday. He was going to start a new job," his father, Patricio Sardinas said.

The family said Sardinas was at their home in Florida City celebrating his birthday a day early when he left to drop off his stepbrother at work.

On the way there, police said Sardinas was involved in a traffic crash on U.S. Route 1 and left the scene. His family insisted that the fender-bender was minor. 

They say his fear of returning to prison led him to flee from the scene and even fire at officers as they pursued him from Miami-Dade to Martin County. 

After officers performed a pit maneuver to stop him, Sardinas shot and killed himself.

Patricio Sardinas said his son told him that he'd "rather die than go back" to prison. His stepmother Martha Sardinas called the incident "suicide by cop."

"I know that he put a lot of lives in danger. Any time you go into a high speed pursuit you got people that are bound to get hurt. You know, I do apologize for that." Patricio Sardinas said.

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