By Jason A. Smith
A 16-year-old was taken to a hospital Monday with minor injuries, authorities said, after allegedly stealing a truck from a school in Clayton County, and leading police on a chase that ended in a traffic-snarling crash on Interstate 75 in Henry County.
Authorities said the incident began when a box truck belonging to a lawn care company was stolen from Jackson Elementary School in Jonesboro by the juvenile.
"He was walking down the street, saw it, and decided he wanted to take it," Clayton County Police Officer Kevin Hughes said of the suspect, whom police called a runaway.
Hughes said the teen found a set of keys inside the truck, and drove off around 10:40 a.m. An officer in an unmarked car later spotted the vehicle and its driver.
While authorities were trailing the suspect, they were also reportedly relaying information about the truck to dispatch personnel.
According to Henry County Police Capt. Jason Bolton, the suspect increased his speed when he noticed he was being followed by police.
"The suspect in the stolen vehicle led police on a pursuit through Henry County, traveling south on I-75," said Bolton. "He ultimately ran off the road and wrecked the ... vehicle, just before Jodeco Road."
The crash occurred in the median of the interstate, leading to traffic backups on both the northbound and southbound sides of I-75.
A hazardous-materials team from the Henry County Fire Department arrived at the scene shortly after the truck crashed. Henry County Fire Capt. Sabrina Puckett said the agency provided a "partial response" to the incident.
"It didn't require a full response, or special suiting [by fire personnel]," she said.
The teen was subsequently taken into custody. Bolton said he required medical attention after the crash.
"He was taken to Southern Regional Medical Center, in reference to minor injuries, but will definitely leave there with Clayton County Police," said Bolton.
No other injuries were reported as a result of the incident. Hughes said the suspect was expected to be taken to the Regional Youth Detention Center in Clayton County.
- Clayton News Daily staff writer Linda Looney-Bond contributed to this article.