A Washington state man was arrested on Tuesday near Tacoma after a bizarre series of events involving “‘bad dope’, semi trucks, and parachutes”.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department received a call about the incident around 7:20 p.m. when a property owner reported that a grey bobtail truck had driven across his property and smashed through three fences before vanishing from property, which is adjacent to the Air Force’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Deputies followed the truck’s path of destruction to the Air Force base’s perimeter fence, where they found a semi-truck-sized hole.
After alerting the Air Force about the breach, officers continued to follow the trail and found the bobtail truck still running and heavily damaged but abandoned. Inside the truck, they found a wallet belonging to a 37 year old Olympia resident with an outstanding felony warrant out of Idaho. They also learned that the truck had been stolen from Bates Technical College in Tacoma.
With the help of a canine unit and military police, who were already on alert because of Special Forces parachute exercises taking place on the base and multiple C17 planes landing and taking off, the suspect was apprehended as he tried to enter a locked building on the Air Force base.
Here’s how the deputies described the man’s explanation for his unusual escapade:
The deputies and a military investigator interviewed the suspect, who told them that he had “‘bad dope in Olympia” and was “driving to Tacoma for better dope” when his car ran out of gas on the on-ramp at I-5 and 84th St. in Tacoma. The suspect said he was walking past a parking lot, saw several semi trucks, entered one and drove off.
The suspect said he had never driven a semi truck before, and as he headed southbound on Steele St. he started having issues with the brakes. As he turned onto Spanaway Loop Road the brakes started going out, so he said he turned westbound on 138th St. S. to attempt to slow the truck down. He said at that point the brakes had completely gone out and he was starting to lose control. He drove down the 911 caller’s driveway, saw some fences and “aimed for the fences hoping it would stop the truck”. The suspect said that didn’t work, and he ended up ramming 3 different fences as well as the Joint-Base Lewis McChord fence.
The suspect said that after the semi crashed through the JBLM fence it started experiencing power failure and he began smelling diesel; he was able to park the truck and ran from the truck. The suspect immediately realized he had left his wallet in the truck and “knew somebody would be coming for him”.
He said he was paranoid that the police were going to be after him and decided he needed to cross the runway in order to get to the buildings to “have a better chance of escaping”. The suspect said that as he was running toward the buildings he saw four paratroopers falling from the sky, so he hid, thinking they were out there to find him. He told the deputies that he then made his way across the airstrip and “an airplane almost hit me”; he also said he was high on methamphetamine and didn’t realize he was on a military base, he thought he was “just at an airport somewhere”.
The suspect faces numerous charges including Theft of a Motor Vehicle, two counts of Malicious Mischief in the 3rd degree, and Driving While License Suspended.