A man stole a garbage truck, then drove it around Capitol Hill, hitting parked cars, Pronto bikes and eventually another garbage truck before being arrested.
An 18-year-old man driving a stolen garbage truck early Tuesday morning marauded through the Capitol Hill neighborhood, damaging cars, mangling about 10 bikes at a Pronto station and forcing the closure of several blocks of traffic.
Shortly before 6:40 a.m., the truck’s fuel tank was punctured during its rampage. Diesel fuel began leaking from the truck as it drove, covering several blocks until the driver hit another garbage truck. The stolen truck’s fuel tank ignited and flames could be seen spewing from its side. The fire was quickly extinguished.
After the crash, police chased down the suspect on foot and arrested him. He was taken to the East Precinct. The suspect was booked into the King County Jail on investigation of auto theft and malicious mischief, according to the Seattle Police Department’s blotter.
Coincidentally, that’s where the heist had begun.
The Allied Waste truck’s usual driver, Jeff Wilson, said he was collecting garbage in an alley near the East Precinct police station when the truck was stolen.
A guy in the alleyway “kept lunging at me,” Wilson said. Wilson got back into the truck and drove it to the top of the alley. He went to grab the attention of police, when the man “jumped in the truck and took off.”
That’s when police began a slow-motion chase. Officers followed the driver of the stolen garbage truck at about 10-15 mph as he “took laps around the Pike/ Pine corridor,” said Lt. Bryan Clenna, of the Seattle Police Department.
The driver had left the truck’s parking brake on and was “hitting stuff as he went,” Clenna said.
Although no one was injured, the driver left a trail of destruction: Several cars in the neighborhood were damaged. One was missing a door. Another had a crunched bumper. Gnarled Pronto bikes lay in a heap on the sidewalk, more twisted metal than bike.
The man was evaluated by a drug and alcohol recognition expert after the incident, Clenna said.
Several Capitol Hill residents woke up to the collision.
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“I just heard this really loud crash and all the car alarms going off,” said Stephanie Gomez, who lives across the street. “It sounded like a whole building collapse.”
“It sounded like a transformer going off,” said Rich Allen, who also lives nearby.
By 7:30 a.m., attention had turned to cleaning up the mess. Crews were dumping sand on several blocks of Olive Way and Denny Way to clean up the diesel spill.
A City Light worker examined a tree hit by the truck that was leaning on a power line.
Police officers waved traffic around the mess.
Waste-service workers removed the stolen truck’s fuel tank, which had a 4-inch gash, and chucked it into the back of the truck for disposal.