Terrifying Tinder meetup: Coast Guardsman takes 3 women airborne in Key West car chase, police say

Police: In ‘fear for their lives,’ women begged him to let them out, but he kept driving

Jose Sanchez (MCSO)

KEY WEST, Fla. – A woman brought two friends to meet with a U.S. Coast Guardsman from Connecticut whom she had connected with on Tinder — but their night out would abruptly end after a wild ride through the streets of Key West, according to police.

According an arrest report from the Key West Police Department, Officer Elam Thornbrugh was patrolling the 1600 block of North Roosevelt Boulevard just before 8:30 Saturday night when a white Ford Mustang convertible nearly hit his cruiser after passing multiple other vehicles at a high rate of speed in a no passing zone.

Police said Jose Anderson Sanchez, listed in his arrest report as a Coast Guardsman from Hamden, Connecticut, was behind the wheel. A woman would later tell officers that he had picked her and the two other women up from the Hyatt Centric hotel at 601 Front St. after the two had started talking on Tinder a few days earlier and agreed to “hang out.”

Thornbrugh wrote that after he turned on his lights and siren and flipped a U-turn to catch up with the Mustang, Sanchez continued to speed and recklessly pass other drivers, turning onto First Street and then Flagler Avenue.

According to the report, when Sanchez, with the three women as passengers, tried to turn onto Sixth Street, he made the maneuver early and wound up briefly going airborne after jumping a median.

The Mustang “started shimmying left and right in attempts to gain control again,” Thornbrugh wrote. He wrote that Sanchez eventually did gain control, turning onto Sixth Street and then Staples Avenue, in front of a man walking his dogs.

Eventually, after turns on multiple other streets and running a stop sign at Fifth Street and Harris Avenue, police called off the pursuit out of safety concerns, the report states.

A driver alerted another officer that the Mustang was parked in front of a home in the 2600 block of Seidenberg Avenue — home surveillance footage showed Sanchez pulling into the driveway, leaving the vehicle with the three women, then locking the car and walking away, police said.

The elderly homeowners had no idea what was going on, according to the report.

The report states an officer sprinted after Sanchez as he walked towards Staples Avenue, eventually stopping him at gunpoint.

Police said they detained the three women as they tried to get in a Lyft. The women told officers that after the hotel pickup, he “immediately began driving in an unsafe fashion,” leading them to ask him several times to stop and let them leave, the report states. But police said he wouldn’t.

Then, after Thornbrugh began pursuing Sanchez, the women told officers that they started “yelling” at Sanchez to stop “because he was not going to get away from the police,” to no avail, according to the report.

The women “asked several times more for Jose to stop driving and let them exit, they were in fear for their lives, Jose continued to refuse their requests,” Thornbrugh wrote.

Police arrested Sanchez, listed in Monroe County jail records as a seaman, on three charges of false imprisonment as well as reckless driving and fleeing and eluding. He was no longer listed in jail as of Tuesday morning and an arraignment date had not yet been scheduled.

Local 10 News reached out to the U.S. Coast Guard to inquire about Sanchez’s status with the service branch and had not received a response as of Tuesday evening.

About the Author:

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.