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Garbage truck gone rogue closes streets around E Olive Way

UPDATE: The Capitol Hill 18-year-old who stole a Republic Services truck early Tuesday morning and took the vehicle on a chaotic, slow-speed joy ride across the neighborhood leaving a path of damage in his wake was taken into custody on E Olive Way after the 20-minute police pursuit. There were no reported injuries but at least one building was reportedly struck and the rogue truck destroyed hit a bike share kiosk as the strange episode played out just after 6 AM.

Original report: We are still gathering details but Seattle Police and Seattle Fire were called to the area around E Olive Way and Bellevue early Tuesday morning after somebody reportedly took a garbage truck on a joy ride. A car fire was reported in the area around 6:30 AM. One CHS reader sent in a photo of flames coming from a large, blue garbage rig. Another photo sent to CHS shows a damaged Pronto bike share station near Bellevue and Pine. Meanwhile, two garbage trucks reportedly collided on E Olive Way near the Crescent Tavern.

According to police radio dispatches, the incident began to play out around 6:10 AM when a garbage truck driver reported he was being harassed and that his truck had been stolen near the East Precinct at 12th and Pine. The truck was seen leaving west on E Pine.

Police immediately began following the truck as it slowly moved west down Pine before the driver began speeding up near Belmont. The male driver then turned north on Bellevue with multiple patrol units trailing as it turned E on Denny. The driver began using oncoming lanes to pass vehicles as SPD followed it through the streets of Capitol Hill at speeds around 15 MPH and with smoke coming from its brakes.

The driver eventually headed north on Melrose from Pike and back east on Denny as the smoke from the vehicle’s brakes increased. The truck then turned onto Bellevue and back east on Pike, running red lights as it traveled back past by the East Precinct and reportedly struck the building. There the truck went up on the sidewalk before leaving again — this time eastbound on Pine and then south on 13th and onto Madison where the driver headed west and eventually to Broadway.

At Bellevue and Pine, the truck apparently struck a utility pole and did “substantial” damage to the nearby bike share kiosk. The driver arrived at Bellevue and Olive where the truck’s slow path of chaos finally came to an end up against a Cleanscapes truck and the driver was taken into custody. In all the chase lasted around 20 minutes. How the Cleanscapes truck ended up at the scene and involved in the final act of the episode isn’t yet clear.

A drug recognition expert was called to the East Precinct to evaluate the suspect.

There were no reported injuries from the slow speed chase and collision. At least three vehicles were reportedly stuck and sustained significant damage.

UPDATE: SPD says it has an 18-year-old in custody noting the suspect has only a learner’s permit.

This appears to be the first significant brush with the law in Seattle for the 18-year-old, according to arrest records. His name appears on a roster of student web accounts at Seattle Central. KIRO reporters say the man was wearing pajamas. The school has confirmed that a person with the same name is a part-time student at SCC.

UPDATE 3:25 PM: The suspect is being held in King County Jail for investigation of vehicle theft, assault, malicious mischief, and eluding. Bail has been denied.

He is a Capitol Hill resident with an apartment only a few blocks from where the incident began on E Pine.

SPD’s report on the incident is below:

Garbage Truck Thief Trashes Capitol Hill Bike Share Kiosk
Written by Detective Patrick Michaud on October 27, 2015 10:39 am
Officers arrested a man Tuesday morning after he led them on a destructive tour of Capitol Hill in a stolen garbage truck. Shortly after 6 AM today the desk clerk for the East precinct was approached by the driver of a garbage truck. The driver said as he was attempting to pick up trash from an alley in the 1500 block of Pine St. when a man came up to him and began harassing him. The man eventually hopped into the drivers seat of the running garbage truck and began to drive away. Officers quickly spotted the wayward waste truck slowly driving through the Pike-Pine Corridor and followed closely behind the truck as it weaved in and out of traffic. The suspect struck several parked cars and upended a bike share kiosk at Bellevue Ave. and Pike St., and eventually came to a stop at Bellevue Ave. and E. Olive Way, where he crashed into another waste disposal truck. The thief briefly attempted to elude police on foot but was taken into custody without further incident. Officers booked the 18-year-old suspect–who police discovered only has a learner’s permit to drive–into the King County Jail for investigation of auto theft and malicious mischief.

The Seattle Times reports the vehicle’s fuel tank was punctured:

Diesel fuel began leaking from the truck as it drove, covering several blocks until the driver hit another garbage truck. The stolen truck’s fuel tank ignited and flames could be seen spewing from its side. The fire was quickly extinguished.

By 7:20, Denny at Melrose remained closed to traffic due to fuel on the roadway. Streets in the area were still closed as of 9 AM as the truck’s tires needed to be replaced before it could be moved and the spilled fuel required clean-up. UPDATE: Both directions of E Olive Way were reopened to traffic around 10:15 AM while clean-up continued on a portion of Denny.

Pronto reported its kiosk was damaged but operational:

Republic Services handles recycling collection for the City of Seattle.

The map below marks in blue all streets the truck was reported traveling — it does not completely reflect the full course of travel due to gaps in East Precinct radio reports on its location.

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15 thoughts on “Garbage truck gone rogue closes streets around E Olive Way

  1. Thankfully, sounds like he forgot to/didn’t know how to release the parking brake/e-brake, otherwise he’d have probably been going much faster.

  2. Bellevue and Denny was closed off this morning, with a smashed bicycle in the middle of the intersection. Was this part of the above story, or a separate accident?

  3. I was walking down the hill on Pine at about 06:15 this morning. Saw this little parade go by just when I was crossing Summit. I could smell the brakes burning but didn’t see smoke. There were 5 or 6 cop cars with full lights & sirens following the garbage truck. They all turned right on Bellevue. By the time I got to Bellevue I couldn’t see any sign of them.

  4. Hey, folks, as you get caught up in the congestion going off the hill, please don’t block the intersections for cross traffic.

  5. I don’t get it. I live right above that and I heard this huge BOOM and literally ten or so car alarms go off. What was that all about? Could actually feel that boom 3 floors up in a concrete building. I’d think I imagined it, it weren’t for all the car alarms that went off instantly.

    • That was the garbage truck’s gas tank exploding. I was watching as it happened. It was leaking burning fuel for a few mins first. 3 firefighters had just arrived and were standing a few feet away when suddenly the tank just blew up violently. I’m glad none of them were hurt.

  6. Looks like someone wanted to play GTA 5 in real life. Most likely Trevor Phillips as I think he needed a garbage truck for a heist.

  7. To add to your route/ damage map, the truck barreled down Boylston Ave between Denny & Howell. At least half a dozen cars were damaged by the truck on the west side of that Boylston block.

  8. I would love to know what the drug recognition expert concluded, because this just has tweaker written all over it.