Men Charged with Torching Car after Florida Crash

December 31, 2009

Two men reportedly crashed a rental car in Panama City and tried to cover up the wreck by setting it on fire.

Police say officers found the crash scene early Monday morning and traced it to 26-year-old Steven James Clarke Jr. and 23-year-old Ryan Kelly Zearing several hours later. Police believe Zearing was driving when the 2009 Ford rental hit a fence and a city water pipe.

Sgt. Jeff Becker said it appeared the men burned the car to divert suspicion, but he wasn’t sure why. Neither man was injured in the crash, but Clarke was injured when he and Zearing fought after the crash.

Both men were charged with arson, and Zearing was also charged with leaving the scene of a crash with property damage and driving with a suspended license.

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