Truck Careens Through Two States Before Cops Shoot Out Tire; Tased Driver Puts Up a Fight
In the made-for-TV movie Duel, a somewhat legendary film for car enthusiasts, Steven Spielberg and Richard Matheson tapped into drivers’ primal fear of being harassed by a malevolent trucker at the wheel of a semi much larger than their own vehicles.
Drivers in Indiana and Michigan experienced a non-fiction form of that fear last week, when a possibly drugged truck driver sideswiped cars as he drove erratically for almost 50 miles before police shot out one of the truck’s driving tires. The driver then punched a police dog and it took a number of officers to corral and restrain him even after he was tasered.
Around 8:30 p.m. last Thursday, May 26, Indiana State Police started receiving cellphone calls from drivers on eastbound Interstate 94 near Portage, Indiana. The drivers all reported a metal-hauling semi hitting construction barrels and sideswiping cars.
By the time Michigan State Police managed to stop him, the driver of the truck had traveled 48 miles from the time of the first reports. That highway is the main route between Chicago and Detroit and at that time of the evening, traffic is still pretty heavy as drivers sweep around the southern tip of Lake Michigan. It was fortunate that nobody was injured in the incident, according to Mlive.com.
Troopers seized what they suspect were narcotics from the driver, a California man driving for the Tokay Line of Lodi who hasn’t identified. After being taken into custody, he was transported to a St. Joseph, Michigan hospital where he suffered what Patrick Boyd, assistant district commander at the Michigan State Police Paw Paw post, described as a “serious” medical condition. Boyd said, “Based on his behavior we suspected that he may have been under the influence,” but it’s not clear if the medical condition or his erratic driving was related to drug use.
After reports came in to the Indiana State Police, the ISP located the semi about 35 miles west of the Michigan state line and started their pursuit. The ISP also notified their colleagues in Michigan, who in turn notified local police along the route to get construction workers off of the road.
Michigan State Police deployed two “stop sticks” in their attempt to halt the truck. Shawn Martin, police chief of Baroda Lake Township, was in the process of deploying a third when the officer had to dive over a cable barrier when the truck headed straight for him.
During the incident a number of MSP patrol vehicles were forced off the road. The agency said that in a construction zone between Bridgman and Stevensville, the 18 wheeler hit a number of vehicles and construction barrels and swerved at police cars while driving through a closed third lane.
At some point, the right front tire of the truck was shredded, I’m guessing by the stop sticks. A couple of miles beyond where it almost hit Chief Martin, one of the truck’s left side drive wheels was shot out by a MSP trooper firing his rifle from the passenger seat of a chasing police car. The truck slowed down and attempted to exit the Interstate. It jackknifed near the top of the ramp and came to a halt, about 48 miles from the location of the first reports, near Michigan City, Indiana.
The driver refused to exit the stopped vehicle, so a police dog from the Berrien County sheriff’s department was sent into the truck cab. The K9 tried to clamp its jaws on the driver, who punched it hard enough to send it falling out of the truck, forcing officers to taser him. Despite the shock, he continued his struggle with the officers. Baroda-Lake Township police officer John Hopkins, whose dashcam recorded the chase, said it took four or five officers to get him out of the truck, restrained and handcuffed.
The driver hasn’t yet been charged with any crimes but police expect him to be arraigned on multiple felony charges once he is discharged from the hospital sometime this week.
Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view over at Cars In Depth. – Thanks for reading – RJS
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