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Flaming Truck Careens Through Dallas

Aired November 7, 2001 - 15:30   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kyra Phillips in Atlanta. A bit of a bizarre breaking news to bring to you right now. This is a truck that we are told that was stolen from DeFord's (ph) Lumber in Dallas, Texas. This has been going at least for 30 minutes in a -- kind of a slow-speed chase with police.

Evidently someone took the -- stole the truck and has been leading police on this slow-speed chase and has caught fire. We have been -- we have been following this for quite some time now and there was -- it did not have a fire -- and do not know how the fire started. But we can tell you that the chase is slowing down by the second.

We are going to continue to follow this. It looks like -- yes, it does look like that the lumber did catch fire, but it looks like the fire has surrounded the wheels on the bottom of this truck.

These pictures are coming to us from our affiliate KDFW in Dallas, Texas. Once again, we are bringing you -- this southeast Dallas, by the way, this area.

We are bringing you pictures of a slow-speed chase. Police now on both sides of the road, trying to surround this semi truck that we are told -- it has lost a wheel. It has lost a wheel. You can see the wheel on fire. Got choppers.

And this is amazing. The truck -- the person driving this truck is still going, is not stopping but continuing -- trying to continue. And obviously coming to a very -- no, it's picking up again. It's lost a wheel in the back, on fire.

The flames -- you can still see the flames on the back of this truck. Once again, you are watching a slow-speed chase. Police in Dallas, Texas trying to safely secure this vehicle that has led them on this chase for at least 30 minutes now.

We are told this is a truck that was stolen from DeFord's Lumber in Dallas, Texas. Looks like the fire is increasing now. It's caught hold not only of the back tires there but parts of the lumber. It's already lost one wheel. And it looks like the truck is getting back onto the highway.

Not sure what highway this is. Maybe we can try and find that out for you. Obviously, cars seeing what is happening, pulling over. Another type of truck coming up alongside. Can't see what kind of truck that is. But might be involved in maybe some type of emergency vehicle coming up behind this rig.

OK, losing more parts of the truck here. Police coming up on the opposite side of the road, as you can see. Once again, the driver of this rig now coming off the freeway. And we see this van behind the rig. Not sure what that it is. It may be some type of emergency vehicle, because obviously it's in between this rig and the police cars.

Once again, we are following this truck chase in Dallas, Texas. It has been going on for at least 30 minutes. These pictures coming to us from KDFW. We are told a truck stolen. We are not sure who is or how many people are in that cab. But it did come from DeFord's Lumber there in Dallas, Texas.

It's amazing that this truck can just keep going. The driver is just not -- OK, we have got something happening here with the vehicle. This possibly could be some type of special weapons and tactics team in this vehicle behind the rig. Not quite sure. We saw the back door opening up a little bit but can't seem to see who is inside. We counting up at least eight to nine police cars.

OK. Now the rig cutting across the road. People getting out of their cars. Some people running from their cars. I don't think any of us would want to be close to this rig right now.

OK the truck has come to a stop. Here we go. Yes, it does look like S.W.A.T. team. S.W.A.T. team coming out of the back. Oh. And the truck, he's going again. OK. It looks like -- it looks like they did take a shot. One of the police officers their might have fired that weapon.

Definitely was the S.W.A.T. team in that vehicle behind the rig. Tried to extract and go after the driver of this vehicle. Unsuccessful. The driver is still driving this stolen rig down the road. Police cars have stopped, set up points, pulled out their weapons.

And it looks like the -- no luck. He is still continuing this slow chase. And if you are just joining us, we'll tell you once again. This is a -- a stolen truck from DeFord's Lumber. We're not sure how many people are in this cab. But we can tell you that this slow-speed chase has been going for at least 30 minutes now.

The back of the truck -- it looks like the cab is starting to wobble. But the back of this truck caught fire. It already lost at least one to two tires that we saw on fire come off the back of this truck.

The lumber on the truck, as you can see, is still burning. A small fire continues to burn there on the back of this truck. But this is in Dallas, Texas. Pictures, once again, coming from KDFW in Dallas, Texas.

And you can see the S.W.A.T. team trailing slowly behind the rig. It kind of looks like a white armored vehicle. That's exactly what it is. And the S.W.A.T. team inside there with other police cars. So hard to determine when something like this can come to a standstill. Police -- they have number of options here when it comes down to a situation like this.

Of course, the -- in a -- in a slow-speed chase, police are constantly radioing in. As you can see right here, this is typical police formation here. You can see they stopped traffic. They try to secure the area. Once they can see the direction that the person is taking stolen vehicle, they immediately start signaling all the other police officers within the area to stop traffic, clear intersections, clear roads.

Here we go. The lumber -- you can see here the lumber coming off the rig. It's starting to wiggle. The driver having a hard time kind of keeping control of this stolen vehicle. The lumber on fire. The lumber is sort of slowly coming off the back of the rig there, causing a bit of an imbalance as this driver is taking the truck down this highway.

Not quite sure what road, what highway this is. But we can tell you it's in Dallas, Texas. Some area of southeast Dallas, Texas. A chase has been going on for at least 30 minutes now.

This truck was stolen from DeFord's Lumber. Police have been in a slow-speed chase. And you can see they -- they have done a very good job of clearing the roads.

And I can tell you that that's typical police procedure. They will start contacting every squad car in the area, clearing the roads, clearing the intersections, getting people either to the side of the road, out of their vehicles, into a safe spot. Because someone like this, you have no idea where they are going to go or what they are going to do.

And you can see behind the rig you got the S.W.A.T. team in a white armored vehicle. Waiting until it comes to a slow stop to be able to approach the individual that has stolen this truck.

Once again, these pictures coming from KDFW in Dallas, Texas. A stolen truck from DeFord's truck that has caught fire. We're not quite sure how. It has lost few tires on the back. The lumber has been falling off the back of the truck.

You can see the S.W.A.T. team slowly trailing behind. Squad cars also on every side of the road, continuing to call in.

And you can see the police cars coming ahead of the truck. And what they are doing is they get in front of the stolen vehicle to beat the stolen vehicle or the person driving the vehicle to intersections to warn drivers that may not know what is -- what is coming ahead. They are getting to the intersections. They are going to try and clear it, get people off the road and make it safe until this -- you can see right there.

See how the -- they're stopping traffic so the guy -- or the woman -- whomever is driving this truck -- can just keep making its way through. But number one priority: keeping the public safe. You can see everyone has come to a standstill. The roads are pretty well cleared. I can tell you the police have done a pretty good job of either getting people to stop or clear the roads, because obviously you don't know what this driver is going to do.

Once again, these are courtesy of KDFW in Dallas, Texas. You are watching a police chase, pretty much low speed right now, as this person who stole this truck from DeFord's Lumber continues to lead police on this chase. It's already lost a couple of tires in the back of the rig. Somehow a fire ignited in the back -- the back of the rig, and the lumber continues to burn and slowly fall off the back of the truck.

This is so bizarre. I can tell you in my career I have seen lot of high-speed chases with stolen cars, but never, never a rig like this. Especially something with a load of lumber on fire. Very bizarre.

We are just going to keep rolling on this just because we are not quite sure. We are trying to find out more details of why the truck was stolen, who is driving this rig. We're trying to get in contact with the people from the police department. OK. I am told we are going to join affiliate coverage now. We are going to join one of our affiliates to see what they have found out. Actually, it's going to be KDFW. We're going to join in and see what they've found out on this high-speed chase.

GEORGE VILLARREAL, KDFW PHOTOGRAPHER: He saw that the intersection was blocked and pulled into that autozone and was able to maneuver his way through, you know, very crowded parking lots there off on to the street. And there was a school there nearby, but I -- I think that that is why all the traffic right now. People are getting their kids and stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, George, have you been able to talk to authorities at all to possibly get more information.

VILLARREAL: No. No, you can imagine that they are quite busy right now. There is quite a number of police cars down here and they have attempted to clear the streets as much as they can so to keep, you know, the general public from harm. And they are quite busy. So I haven't even attempted to approach them because of that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Understandable. They certainly have a job to do as well. A very dangerous job, at that, for both emergency officials as well as the people who are in that area.

Let's talk about, though, advance warning, because it seems like a lot of people have been able to pull over to the side of the road. Are you seeing authorities come up to areas where they think the 18- wheeler is -- is going to be and telling people to move on?

VILLARREAL: Yes. There seems to be two -- two contingents: one ahead of the truck and one behind the truck. And, you know, the eight or 10 -- whatever -- vehicles that are ahead of it go to the next intersection and block the intersection to keep people from getting out into the -- in harm's way. You know, and the ones that come behind it, they -- they kind of leapfrog. Do you -- do you see what I'm saying?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure. And I want to point out to our viewers right now, you know, we have been watching for the rest of the load on the back of this 18 wheeler to spill. It looks like that is getting ready to happen. You're getting lots of black smoke.

Also, 35 and Ledbetter. That's the location right now. You can see a lot of officials there behind -- George, were you able to -- because you were on the ground there, close to where the 18 wheeler came by -- to get a look at the person or persons inside the cab of the 18-wheeler?

VILLARREAL: Yes, he -- he seems to be -- well, I hate to say it, but enjoying himself. He's waving at people and honking the horn and -- and stuff like that.

I couldn't tell you exactly his nationality, but I believe him to be a Hispanic person. Maybe an Anglo, but I can't be sure about that.

Just a few minutes ago when he came past me the fire was going pretty good on the back and it caught the lumber and he dropped a -- one of those five-gallon buckets full of -- of I guess nails or -- or some sort of metal stuff right here on the road. The people here have cleaned that up. You know, the -- the neighborhood folks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure. And just to give us a better idea, from our perspective it looks like there is, what, lumber. Also a forklift on the back of the truck. Also to point out -- we want to let everybody know -- I-35 north of Ledbetter. That's the current location.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Arbor and 35 right now. But anyway. George, I'm sorry. On the back of the truck, what else is back there that you could see?

VILLARREAL: It seems to be some sort of a plywood. Plywood and other materials like that. But the biggest impression I got was plywood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And along the way, too, we've seen this person -- George, you mentioned that seems to be a fairly good driver. Along the way he missed lot of people. Close calls. And a lot of -- we can see it there, almost seeing -- hitting the light pole there. Missed a lot of people and -- and close calls with a lot of vehicles as well. And people, as we said, were -- were jumping out of their cars because he -- he was so close to them. And not knowing if he was going to hit them.

But again, you said that he was waving at folks, George, and also honking his horn as well?

VILLARREAL: Honking the horn, and people were getting -- well, I don't know. It's just taken on a circus kind of atmosphere. He passed particular spots three or four times and so it's had enough to time to draw a crowd, so to speak. And when he comes by, they wave, they yell and he honks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So people are -- I don't want to say, you know, egging him on, but is that what it seems -- what they seem to be doing?

VILLARREAL: No, I don't think they are egging him on. I think he's doing it and they're just watching and, I mean, they are just amazed at his driving, to tell you the truth.

He's just, you know, I mean obviously don't know what the thoughts of the chase, you know. But here it's going and he's -- I don't know. He's just an amazing driver.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, that certainly is one thing that we can say for this person. Again, being able to maneuver through the cars and the people. We want to give an update on the location. This is eastbound right now on Ledbetter at I-35.

Again, this driver going through a lot of different -- different situations. A lot of close calls with people. And I imagine that -- I imagine that there are people standing by, happy to be out of the way, happy to be out of his way when he goes on by.

VILLARREAL: Yes. You're absolutely right. I'm -- I'm told that he's headed back my way. So I -- I guess I'll wait for him and get some more pictures for you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Absolutely, George. Thanks very much. And one thing we do point out is we in absolutely no way want to make this person who stole this 18-wheeler in any way seem to be any better than he possibly is. As you can see right there, missing closely a school bus.

This is very dangerous situation and the -- and the only reason that we have brought up the amount of this person's driving skill is because he has come so very close to hitting so many people. Those people I'm sure happy not to have gotten in harm's way from that driver. Lucky to be alive, I'm sure they're saying at this point.

And so I in no way mean to glorify the driving skills of this person who stole this 18-wheeler, because on this Wednesday afternoon certainly putting himself and also the dozens of law enforcement officials who seem to be around him as well and the hundreds of people on the street in harm's way.

We want to give you an update of where this person is: westbound loop 12. Also, police are asking us to -- parents please keep your -- and schools as well -- keep the kids in school. The schools are asked right now -- police are asking the schools...

PHILLIPS: Kyra Phillips back here in Atlanta. CNN center in Atlanta. You have been listening to a live broadcast of the anchor at KDFW in Dallas, Texas, as she has been having a conversation with a photographer, a reporter up in the traffic helicopter.

What you -- what you are been watching here is something that has been going on for more than 30 minutes now. It's a high-speed, low- speed chase -- can't be exactly sure -- with police. A stolen 18- wheeler from DeFord's Lumber. This is in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

We are told this area specifically where the -- this man is driving this stolen truck is just south of downtown Dallas. And I can tell you as we have been following this, if you're just joining us, this is such a -- a strange situation. Usually when you are seeing these types of chases, they are not big rigs. They are stolen vehicles. And this is stolen big rig that has a load of lumber on the back, including a forklift.

And at one point as the chase began the -- there was -- some type of fire began at the back of the truck. Started losing lumber. The lumber was falling off. It looked like it had lost a wheel. We're not quite sure if that was a wheel or a barrel that was on fire that came off the back of that rig.

We don't know anything about this man driving this -- the cab right here. We do know -- I was listening to the helicopter photographer and he was saying that he saw a male in there and has actually been waving and honking his horn to all of these folks as he is driving the rig.

And I can tell you right now from the mentality of the police officer, once this man is apprehended he won't be laughing and neither will be the police. We can tell you that the S.W.A.T. team is in an armored vehicle. They have been trailing close behind this stolen rig.

Also, a number of police cars in back of, in front of, trying to keep this dangerous situation safe from the public, which you will notice is -- you'll see squad cars like right here coming up to the intersection.

The squad cars are trying to stay ahead of this -- this stolen vehicle as this man takes the rig down the road. And what they will do is get to the areas where cars are going back and forth and just stop traffic, get people off the road, and try to clear the way for this driver to get through.

Because number one priority, of course, is to keep the public safe from someone just completely out of control here, as he is driving this stolen rig.

Once again, just south of downtown, not quite sure exactly what highway this truck is coming onto. We were told that he was on I-35. I can -- I'm not quite sure if this is I-35 still. But he continues to drive this stolen rig from DeFord's Lumber. It's been going on now for more -- for more than 30 minutes. Trying to get sort of a bird's- eye view to see where exactly the location of this stolen rig is.

You can see the fire still burning at the back of the truck. Now, previously, when this -- when we started following this stolen vehicle, there was lumber all the way to the back of the truck. As you have seen, the back load, all that lumber has -- has come off the truck, either on fire or just bits and pieces have -- have rolled off. If you are a parent and -- and you are watching this you may -- kids are probably getting close to getting out of school, or getting out of school. We did see some school buses. The most important thing is to stay off the road right now if you can. If you are in this area and you see this going on, don't get onto the roads right now. It's not a safe environment.

I can tell you in a situation like this police are doing everything possible to follow the route and looking ahead, being very preventative and getting people off the road, blocking intersections, blocking exits, so that nobody will get hurt in this chase.

So far, we're just -- here you can see the police cars coming up on the left side. And the purpose of this is not only to give a warning -- oh here we go. We see -- yes, it is I-35.

Once again this truck is on I-35. Starting to swerve a little bit. Starting swerve to the left side. Police -- there we go. Some more pieces coming off. Not sure if it is parts of the truck or just things coming off the back load there.

But the driver of this stolen rig continuing I-45. We're told now that he's heading down I-45. And this is southeast of downtown Dulles -- Dallas. Downtown Dallas, Texas.

The driver of this stolen truck is headed south at this point. It's kind of hard to keep up with this guy. He's been going all over the place. We are told now he is approaching I-20. So he's on I-45, just southeast of downtown Dallas. He is headed south, approaching I- 20.

Do we know if he got onto I-20 there? OK. He's still approaching I-20. If you are just joining us, you are watching a chase with police. A stolen man driving a stolen 18-wheeler from DeFord's Lumber in Dallas, Texas. These pictures coming to us from KDFW in Dallas, Texas. Live pictures, as this man as been taking police on just a wild goose chase for more than 30 minutes now.

Now it's on I-20 westbound. We are told the driver of this stolen rig is heading on I-20 westbound, not far from downtown Dallas. And you can -- now, you see these other vehicles. Not sure if these folks understand what is going on here. But you see these other trucks, these other cars on I-20 probably don't know this is a stolen vehicle and the danger.

This is -- this is unbelievable. This is so dangerous. You don't know what this guy is going to do. The load in the back is swerving back and forth. And here you've got people -- there we go.

Now we've got police coming up. Obviously the police are picking up the pace to try and warn people and warn drivers to get away from this truck. And that is the whole reason they will speed up to try and make the road safer for people on the road who have no idea what is going on.

Let's go ahead and join the live coverage with KDFW, see is they have been able to get any new information that we haven't been able to get. We continue to follow this. Let's check in with the local affiliate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: FAA restrictions because of the September 11th attacks. We are going to stay with this as long as we can. But if we are forced because of those FAA regulations to no longer bring you a picture of course we will update you at on Fox 4 news at 5:00. Westbound 20, past 35.

Also a little update. This started apparently, from what we're understanding right now, as a -- as a carjacking call. And this is what it has turned into more than hour and 35 minutes later.

We also want to point out that this is, we feel, a public safety service. That is why we are bringing you this information now. We did monitor this situation in the newsroom for a good half an hour before we broke into programming. And once this driver started closer to pedestrians, closer to hurting law enforcement officials, we decided this is the point that we need to break into regular programming and bring this to you.

Again, fire on the back, we saw, of that 18-wheeler. It was fully loaded with a forklift, lumber, buckets of nails, we heard from our photographer. A single person.

Also, if you are just joining us, we want to point out that about 2:45 this afternoon it appeared that the 18-wheeler was stopping. We saw a police officer run toward the cab of that 18-wheeler and a shot -- at least one shot was fired.

The 18-wheeler now going 30 west toward Fort Worth. Again, we are going to stay with this picture as long as we can and as long as the dangerous situation remains. But again, because of those FAA restrictions and regulations keeping us a certain distance away from airports, we might lose our signal. And if we do we will bring you the very latest on Fox 4 news at 5:00.

Still headed westbound on 20 at this point. Lots of smoke. Toward Lancaster Road at this point. Lots of smoke there coming back -- or coming off the back of that 18-wheeler. You can see there on the left, there was -- as we heard from George Villarreal -- there seem to be a couple of different teams here. One advance team.

I want to make a clarification. This is on -- on 20. We had been reporting this as on 30. This was on -- on 20.

But George Villarreal pointed out that there seemed to be a couple of teams here. An advance team, because of course police as well as Sky 4 monitoring this from the sky. Police in the air, on the ground, having that advance team go forward from where their eyes in the sky say this driver appears to going. Blocking off intersections, telling folks to get out of the way, so that they can protect those people who are on the ground and hopefully try to bring this -- this chase that has been going on now for more than an hour and half.

This is the pleasant -- excuse me -- the Pleasant Grove exit. But again, that advance team keeping its eyes on the situation. Northbound Pleasant Grove. You can see lots of smoke there coming off the back, again, of that 18 wheeler.

That's a more clear shot for you. This driver has been in all sorts of situations today, in residential areas, through crowded business parking lots. This is I-20 -- went onto then northbound. This is Houston School Road.

Also we want to point out again, safety officials, police, asking us to ask schools to please keep the kids inside at this point. We saw not too long ago this driver come very, very close to hitting a school bus. Very close. I mean, from our perspective it seemed to be several feet from hitting that school bus. So again officials asking us to ask the schools please keep kids inside.

Involved in this chase: the Dallas Police Department, the Dallas County Sheriff's Office, also the Texas Department of Public Safety. We heard word from a Fox 4 photographer that there appears to be one person inside that cab. He said he believed the person was possibly Hispanic but could give us no more of a description than that.

This is northbound on Houston School Road at Camp Wisdom. You can still see -- it appears to me the fire is still burning there on the back. The forklift, that appears to be what is on fire. Much of the load was lost along on the way.

The 18 wheeler appears to be a lot more stable than it was about 15 minutes ago. That is when the driver was really swerving and things seemed to be fairly unstable for that driver.

Coming up at this point on Red Bird Lane. And it also appears to be -- if you can see from the video -- that the forklift is dragging there on the back of that 18-wheeler. And that, again, could make it a little bit more difficult for this driver to keep the 18 wheeler under control.

Again, an update on the location. Northbound Houston School Road at Red Bird Lane. A police officer there. You can see on the left hand side of you screen. You can see them keeping -- keeping vehicles back. Again, another warning to schools from safety officials. Please keep the young people inside. This would be the time when many of the schools are letting out.

PHILLIPS: Thanks again. This is Kyra Phillips at CNN center in Atlanta. You've just been listening to KDFW, the local news there, as they've been bringing us these live pictures of a police pursuit going on right now.




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