Man Ejected After Stealing and Crashing Ohio Apparatus

May 11, 2013
A man broke into the Harrison Township fire station, jumped aboard a tanker and took off. Soon after, the apparatus left the road, overturned and the man was ejected.

May 10--A volunteer fire department in rural Ross County is minus a fire truck after an early-morning joy ride ended in a crash that destroyed the tanker truck and critically injured the suspected thief.

A man broke into the Harrison Township fire station, jumped aboard a 2003 Kenworth tanker truck and took off down Charleston Pike east of Chillicothe with the lights flashing and the siren wailing, authorities said.

The thief didn't get far. The westbound fire truck ran off the road about 12:08 a.m., hit a guardrail and overturned, throwing the man from the vehicle, according to the Chillicothe post of the State Highway Patrol.

The man did not have any identification in his possession and has not yet been identified, said Lt. J.M. Moore, commander of the Chillicothe post.

The man was flown to Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University in Columbus, where he remained unconscious and in critical condition this morning, Moore said.

The Ross County sheriff's office reported that a surveillance video showed a man breaking a window to enter the fire station and then raising an overhead door and driving away in the fire truck.

Charges will be filed once the man is identified, deputies said. The man seen on the video matches the description of the man in the hospital, they said.

Harrison Township Fire Chief Bryon Thornton said the truck is a total loss. "It's in pieces. What used to be a 10-foot-tall truck is four-feet." The 2,200-gallon tanker truck, which is insured, will cost $190,000 to $250,000 to replace, he said.

The thief unsuccessfully tried at first to steal the department's pumper truck, the chief said. The thief also backed the tanker through the kitchen wall before departing the fire station "with it all lit up," Thornton said.

The department's volunteer emergency-medical technicians worked to treat and stabilize the injured theft suspect before anyone even worried about the crushed tanker laying nearby, Thornton said.

"It's kind of ironic. Someone comes into your house, steals your stuff, destroys your truck and we saved his life. You have to take care of him first," the chief said.

Copyright 2013 - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

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