THOMASVILLE — The Thomas County Sheriff's Office is working with the U.S. Secret Service and Florida authorities to learn more about the Florida man who died predawn Monday in a Ga. 3 traffic crash.

The man, Emilio Gutierrez, a Lake Worth, Florida, resident, had been seen by a sheriff's office deputy at a gasoline pump at a closed business at Ga. 3 and Dollar Store Road a short time before the crash, Capt. Steven Jones, sheriff's office public information officer, said earlier.

Jones said Gutierrez appeared to be attempting to use a skimmer at the credit card area of the gasoline pump.

Gutierrez fled and a deputy pursued. When speeds topped 100 miles per hour, the deputy dropped back. Gutierrez continued. The deputy found Gutierrez's vehicle in a stand of trees. Gutierrez was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene.

Sheriff's office investigators obtained a search warrant for Gutierrez's Nissan Armada and found two cell phones.

"We found tools we think he used to open gas pumps," said Capt. Tim Watkins, sheriff's office chief investigator.

Another search warrant was granted by Thomas County Superior Court for a search of the phones' contents.

"We hope the phones will tell us where he had been in the last 24 to 48 hours," Watkins said. 

The investigation has led to Brevard County, Florida, Gutierrez's home county.

Watkins said Brevard County authorities had found skimmers on Gutierrez following a traffic stop.

What is found on Gutierrez's phones will go to the Secret Service.

"It could become part of a larger investigation possibly involving others," Watkins said. 

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820 

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