A Marine recruit possibly escaping boot camp was arrested after allegedly running across an open runway at busy San Diego International, stealing a van, then colliding with a tow vehicle.
Just after 6 a.m. on Thursday, Harbor Police in San Diego received a call from Lindbergh Field Airport with reports of a fence alarm sounding off. Then a second report was made of what appeared to be "a Marine recruit running across the airfield toward the terminals," said Harbor PD Lt. John Forsythe.
The airport is located next to the San Diego Marine Corps Depot near downtown. Two barbed-wire fences separate the depot from the airport's runways.
Police say the man was seen running across a runway toward gate six in the Southwest terminal.
Police went to the runway and found the man hiding inside a janitorial van that he had backed up, resulting in a collision with a Southwest airline tug-a small cart used to transport luggage. Police surrounded the van, ordered him out and handcuffed the marine. Cuts were found on the man's arms from jumping the barbed-wire fence.
ABC News affiliate 10 News-KGTV said the suspect was taken to the Naval Medical Center San Diego, where he underwent medical and psychological evaluations.
Police confirmed the man is a 22-year-old Marine Corps recruit from San Rafael, Calif. The recruit's name was not released.
Police said they will charge the man with stealing a vehicle and trespassing onto the airfield. He is in the custody of the Marine Corps Police Department.
"The recruit reported to MCRD on Monday, January 14 and was going through initial processing," the San Diego Marine Recruit Depot said in a statement. "He had not begun recruit training."
Forsythe believes the Marine recruit was trying to escape boot camp, saying "some recruits don't prepare for what they'll experience in boot camp."
Forsythe says he's worked with Harbor police for 25 years and had seen recruits jumping the fence more often in the 1980's and '90s but said, "now a recruit jumping over the fence is a very rare occasion."