Driver Involved in Crash Steals Cal-Fire Truck

The battalion chief who stopped to help crash victims was in turn victimized

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCSanDiego

    An emergency worker who stopped to help accident victims believes one of the drivers involved in the crash stole his truck.

    On his way to a meeting at Cal Fire headquarters, battalion chief Mark Ostrander was just doing his job, stopping to help victims in a crash and keep other drivers from colliding near the accident scene.

    Ostrander parked his Cal Fire pickup on northbound Jamacha near Hilton Head Road around 8 a.m. where two cars had just collided and vehicles were blocking the roadway. "I was worried somebody was going to get hurt," he said.

    He was working through a crowd of about a dozen people to assess who may be injured, when a man jumped in his truck and drove off with emergency lights on.

    “I turned around and looked and my vehicle’s going down the road as it’s being stolen,” Ostrander said. “A couple of people standing by thought he was with me and he was just moving my vehicle."

    After reporting the theft, Ostrander decided to let the CHP take it from there and instead went right back to helping the crash victims.

    Witnesses reported the truck, number 3314, white with red stripes, was last seen heading northbound on Jamacha, according to the CHP.

    Within an hour, El Cajon police, the San Diego County sheriff's helicopter and CHP officers were all over the city of El Cajon, checking city bus routes for the suspect after witnesses reported the man jumped on a city bus to get away.

    Ostrander said the man who stole the truck was one of the drivers involved in the initial accident. "He was the only guy missing from the scene" he said.

    The truck was found abandoned at Jamacha and Hillsdale.

    “He probably heard me report it over the radio and probably figured out it wasn’t a good vehicle to be in and parked it and got out,” said Ostrander.

    The site of the original accident is about a block from the headquarters for the California Department of Forestry.