Alleged Gas Thief Catches Fire, Crashes Truck

Nov 1, 2012 4:11pm

A man has been hospitalized in Mesa, Ariz., after he caught fire and the truck he was driving crashed into a home as he fled from allegedly siphoning gas from someone’s car, police said.

Surveillance footage taken by Mitch Drum apparently shows Herbert C. Ridge, 38, rolling on the ground trying to extinguish flames that had engulfed his shirt. Seconds earlier, the video appears to show Ridge leaping from the driver’s seat of  the truck as it crashes into Drum’s neighbor’s home.

“I heard a boom outside my house, so I ran out and saw the truck on fire with the guy running away,” Drum, 26, told ABCNews.com. ” I ran off after him but I didn’t want to go physical, because who knows what he might be on.”

Police suspect Drum of stealing the truck and gasoline but have not charged him at this time.

Drum said Ridge told him that his Ford F150 had caught fire while he was driving it.

“He had a broken arm, you could see it bulging and a lot of smoke residue. I could see the smoke on him, gashes, arms broken, he was just mangled up,” Drum said.

While Drum called 911, the man ran off toward another neighbor’s house.

“He had this manufactured siphoning system that he made himself, with a pump hooked up to it, to a battery,” he said. “Something must have sparked.”

Drum’s newly installed security cameras apparently captured the images of Drum. He said he had just installed the cameras after an altercation with people attending a neighborhood party Saturday night.

“We were able to figure out what happened while they were working the call,” Sgt. Tony Landato told ABCNews.com. “Within an hour of the call coming out, we had him identified.”

Police said that the home that was struck was unoccupied when it was hit with the allegedly stolen truck. Ridge is still in the hospital and is expected to survive his injuries.

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