Of all Florida's many antics, this surely ranks among the craziest.
Paraplegic Florida man Shamal Battice arrived at a Ford dealership in Ocala yesterday, looking for a new ride. He wanted to ditch his wheelchair for something a little quicker, he told salesman Anselmo "Chico" Barreto. Barreto didn't think too much of it. He's sold all sorts of cars to paraplegic men.
This reasoning wouldn't be the strangest thing to happen yesterday.
Barreto rolled Battice, who wore a burnt orange sweatshirt, up to a white 2009 Pontiac G6, reports the Ocala Star Banner.
Battice said he wanted to feel the seats. He wanted to touch them. So Barreto let him.
Emboldened, Barreto said he wanted to see how the car felt. He wanted to sit inside. So, again, Barreto let him.
From there, a remarkable thing occurred. After Barreto assisted Battice into the car, the crippled man allegedly locked the door, slid the key into the ignition, and, brandishing a folding cane, pushed it onto the gas pedal and drove out of the lot. Just like that.
"It was unbelievable, only in the movies," Barreto said.
Barreto didn't know what to do, hadn't seen anything like it in his 11 years at Ford. So he called the cops.
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Marion County deputies chased after the speeding Pontiac, but Battice allegedly wouldn't pull the car over. As Marion County gave way to Alachua County, a fresh set of deputies zipped after the paraplegic man, navigating the roads with the folding cane. But according to the Star Banner, they tired of the chase and gave up when Battice crossed into Bradford County.
Later, after a the news was broadcast across scanners, Bradford deputies found Battice trying to put gas into his car. They hit him with a charge of driving with suspended or revoked license -- which means, at least at some point, Battice had been street legal.