A Tennessee man accused of wrecking a stolen big-rig and causing a massive traffic jam on Interstate 15 in Temecula last weekend told authorities he was fleeing from zombies.
Jerimiah Clyde Hartline, 19, has been booked on suspicion of grand theft, driving without a license and hit-and-run. He remains in custody at the Southwest County Detention Center in Murrieta on $500,000 bail.
According to California Highway Patrol Officer Nathan Baer, Hartline told authorities he stole the semitruck Saturday night from a weigh station in Rainbow, a community 10 miles southwest of Temecula, because he thought zombies were coming after him.
Baer said Hartline believed zombies were holding onto side of the truck even as he tried to escape from the walking dead.
“Hartline swerved the truck side to side to shake the zombies off,” Baer said. “A short time later, he crashed the big rig.”
According to a CHP collision report, the incident resulted in multiple car accidents that left eight people injured, including two seriously. Hartline was also injured.
All four lanes of the interstate were closed for several hours because the truck had overturned, spilling the two loads of strawberries it was hauling. Two heavy-duty tow trucks were required to upright the vehicle, the report said.
It was unknown whether Hartline was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.