ATLANTA — A man is in custody after he reportedly stole a Georgia Department of Transportation HERO unit and led law enforcement on a chase through two busy interstates.
Officials said the Highway Emergency Response Operators, or HERO, unit was responding to an accident on the ramp from Arthur Langford Parkway to I-75/85 when it was stolen. The units, according to GDOT, are dispatched to traffic-related incidents in metro Atlanta with the "primary duty to clear roads so that normal traffic flow is restored." HEROs also assist stranded motorists with flat tires, dead batteries or in need of fuel.
While investigating the accident, an Atlanta Police officer discovered an occupant of one of the vehicles, 19-year-old Vandale Fluker, had an outstanding warrant for his arrest, they said.
As officers attempted to take Fluker into custody, police said he ran across the interstate, entered an unoccupied HERO vehicle and drove off from the scene. Police officers followed the vehicle and requested assistance from the Georgia State Patrol, they said.
GSP chased Fluker, who was ultimately apprehended by troopers in the area of I-20 and Columbia Drive, police said.
Video from the scene shows one person taken into custody, with cruisers and law enforcement officers from the Georgia State Patrol, Atlanta Police Department and the DeKalb County Police Department all present.
GSP said at least seven patrol cars were struck during the incident.
Officers on the scene of the original accident said they recovered drugs and a gun that Fluker reportedly threw as he fled. Police said it also appeared the HERO driver attempted to get into the vehicle as Fluker began driving away, but was knocked to the ground. He suffered minor injuries from the incident.
Police said the original warrants for Fluker were from both the DeKalb and Cherokee county sheriff's offices for aggravated assault, obstruction, fraud and larceny.