By Ed Brock
Angela Troxell looked behind her and thought the man driving a boom crane truck onto a nearby yard was just in a hurry to get out of the way of the police behind him.
It turns out Charles Downey, 34, was trying to get away from those officers and the truck he was driving had been stolen from a Conley business earlier Monday morning, Clayton County Police Capt. Jeff Turner said. Troxell, who was on her way to work and was stopped on Rex Road near the intersection with Ga. Highway 42, watched the truck run into a ditch by the side of the road and begin to tip over in front of her brand new pickup truck.
At first she thought the truck was going to miss her, but then she saw the crane come down on the front of her vehicle.
"It was just like a big crash, like a boom," Troxell said.
Then a police officer was pulling her from her truck and telling her to get behind a nearby squad car as other officers began wrestling Downey out of the stolen truck.
After the action had died down and Downey was on his way to jail, 39-year-old Troxell of Stockbridge said the incident was one of the most exciting moments in her life.
"I was just on my way to work, trying to get out of the way," Troxell said.
Turner said the truck had been reported stolen around 7:04 a.m. Monday. It had been taken from Southeastern Roof Decks, Inc. on Koppers Road in Conley and an employee of that company, Scott Duffey, said he had been at work when they reported the theft.
Then Duffey was on his way to a job site in McDonough when he saw the truck in the parking lot of a gas station on Ga. 42 and Moreland Avenue across from the main gate for Army Garrison Fort Gillem. He called his supervisor, and then he called 911.
A Clayton County officer got behind the truck and tried to stop it at Bouldercrest and Anvil Block Roads, Turner said. The chase went through DeKalb and Henry counties at some points and the speed never exceeded 50 mph. Officers used "stop sticks," a device used to puncture the tires of suspect vehicles in a chase, to stop the truck near Rock Baptist Church on Ga. 42.
The stop sticks crippled the truck prior to the crash that ended the chase.
A van and other equipment was also taken from Southeastern Roof Decks, said the company's owner John Dumas.
"They made a raid on the yard this morning," Dumas said.
Downey has been charged with theft of a motor vehicle, fleeing police, reckless driving and various other traffic violations, Turner said.