HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A driver stole a tow truck and led police on a bizarre chase through several states Monday, police said.
While the accused driver tried to get away, a police cruiser came so close to catching him that it got stuck under the flatbed.
As CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported, cellphone video captured the wild chase involving the stolen flatbed tow truck. It sped down Route 17 in Ramsey, New Jersey with police in hot pursuit.
“First time I’ve seen one of those live. I’ve never seen them,” said witness Steve DeMarino. “I’ve seen them on TV, but you never see them right in front of you like that. It was absolutely crazy.”
DeMarino said the tow truck driver and police were going at least 80 to 85 mph.
“I couldn’t believe it. Out of everyone in the world, I mean, I seen that live?” he said. “It was really crazy.”
It all started in Hackensack, where authorities said the suspect stole the truck from Bergen Brookside Auto Body and Towing. The manager told CBS2 they think the suspect somehow got into their yard around midnight.
The towing company noticed the missing truck Monday morning and tracked it through GPS.
Authorities said East Rutherford police spotted the flatbed, and tried to stop it. But the driver took off, heading north on Route 17.
New York State Police were called in to help around 8:30 a.m. The suspect by then was heading north on the New York State Thruway toward Woodbury in Orange County.
“At that point the operator of the stolen flatbed completed a U-turn, and started heading back southbound on the New York State Thruway, and during that time he came into contact with two state police units pursuing the vehicle, and he ultimately exited here at 15A,” said New York State Police Capt. Richard Mazzone.
State police said the suspect kept going after hitting two trooper cars.
In a Facebook video near the end of the chase, multiple police units were seen blocking in the truck as it dragged an East Rutherford police cruiser. Authorities said the officer inadvertently got the car hooked onto the rear during the chase.
Drone Force 2 was over the scene after it all finally came to a stop on Route 59 in Hillburn, Rockland County.
The suspect – identified as Paul T. Gudanowksi, 50, of Wood-Ridge, New Jersey, was charged with driving while intoxicated, criminal mischief, assault with intent to cause injury to a police officer, criminal possession of stolen property, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, and unlawful fleeing police.
“I got to give the cops credit,” DeMarino said. “They did do a good job.”
The general manager of the towing company where the flatbed was stolen said he and his staff were looking through surveillance video to see if they captured anything that could help with the investigation.
State police said Gudanowski was treated for minor injuries, along with the two state troopers he hit on the Thruway.