Man uses dog to carjack Caltrans truck, then goes on joyride to John Wayne Airport, police say
A 31-year-old man was arrested Thursday after police say he used a large dog to help him carjack a Caltrans work truck outside an amusement park in Irvine and took the vehicle on a joyride that ended when he crashed at John Wayne Airport.
A Caltrans worker was sitting in the truck with the engine off in the parking lot of Boomers on Michelson Drive when a man, later identified by police as Erik Baumle, opened the passenger door and startled the state employee.
The worker asked Baumle what he was doing, but Baumle didn’t respond. Instead, he threw a large dog into the vehicle, Irvine police Sgt. Karie Davies said in a news release.
“Not knowing if the dog was vicious and fearing for his safety, the victim exited the truck,” Davies said.
Baumle moved over to the driver’s side of the work truck and drove out of the parking lot onto Michelson Drive while the worker jumped into another Caltrans vehicle that was parked nearby with a fellow employee inside. The pair called 911 shortly after 1:40 p.m. as they tailed the stolen truck across the city, Davies said.
Officers spotted the stolen truck and followed it to John Wayne Airport, where Baumle tried to drive it onto the second story of a parking structure near the departing terminals. But the truck was too tall, and it struck the top of the parking garage. Baumle put the truck in reverse and crashed into a police car, authorities said.
He eventually stopped, but remained in the truck for five minutes before surrendering to police. Baumle was arrested on suspicion of carjacking, theft of a vehicle and assault with a deadly weapon, Davies said.
He is being held at Orange County Jail in Santa Ana in lieu of $100,000 bail, according to arrest records.
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