4 Good Samaritans chase down stolen truck with 5-month-old baby inside
A frightening moment of uncertainty was transformed into a story of heroism last weekend after four Good Samaritans chased after a stolen truck with a five-month-old baby inside near Strathmore, Alta., helping to reunite the infant with its family.
A truck parked near the Travelodge hotel in Strathmore, a town approximately 50 kilometres east of Calgary, was stolen with an infant inside at around 10:30 p.m. on Saturday. The occupants of the vehicle had stopped to take a break from driving and were standing beside the truck when an unknown man wearing a reflective vest jumped into the driver’s seat and sped away, police said.
Tess Little Chief was in the parking lot next to the Travelodge with her husband, Kyle Royal, and two friends, Lincoln Rodh and Rylee Waterchief. They had just pulled into the lot when a man approached, frantically banging on their window.
Royal opened the door and the man yelled: “Someone stole my truck, it’s right there driving away,” she said in an interview with CBC News. He told them a baby was in the truck.
WATCH | Alberta woman describes how she chased a stolen truck:
Little Chief said as soon as she heard a baby was inside, she began to pursue the truck, the two vehicles speeding through Strathmore.
The chase ended about 40 minutes later outside Strathmore, with the baby safe. Police praised Little Chief and her friends, saying they provided crucial information on the truck’s whereabouts.
As Little Chief drove, Rodh said Waterchief called the RCMP and stayed on the line with the dispatcher as the truck peeled out of town and onto a rural dirt road.
Driver focused on baby
Little Chief said she was driving so fast to keep up with the truck that she had to stop herself from looking at the speedometer, fearing she would slow down.
Rodh said that although Little Chief was nervous, they all encouraged her to keep going, telling her she was doing a great job.
“[There were some] pretty scary situations where he was fishtailing and I was worried he would crash with the baby inside,” said Little Chief.
She added that her focus throughout the chase was getting the baby back safely.
“[It was] just the ultimate overwhelming feeling of if we lose this baby, the impact that it would have on us would be immense.”
At one point, the truck drove through a farmers field — and Little Chief followed.
The truck eventually made it onto Highway 1, driving west toward Chestermere, where RCMP closed in on the vehicle’s position and followed it.
In a statement, police said the vehicle reached speeds of up to 160 kilometres per hour.
Rodh said they moved out of the way to allow RCMP to take the lead, but continued to follow behind.
At the underpass of Highway 1 and Highway 9, the driver of the truck pulled over and removed the infant from the vehicle, placing it on the side of the road, police said. He then got back in the truck and drove off. One of the responding Strathmore police officers rushed in and swept the infant up from the highway.
The RCMP said the mother of the child arrived shortly afterward.
A police helicopter followed the stolen truck, which got stuck while trying to drive around a gate at a new development near near Township Road 243 and Range Road 281 near Chestermere. The driver of the car then attempted to flee on foot before he was taken into custody.
WATCH | The moment the infant is reunited with family:
A 27-year-old man is facing multiple charges including abduction of a child under 14, theft of a motor vehicle, flight from police and dangerous driving.
While police said they do not normally advise members of the public to chase stolen vehicles, they say this situation was different because an infant was involved.
“I would like to thank our community members who stopped to provide assistance and helped to relay valuable information to our responding members,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Wielgosz of the Strathmore RCMP.
In hindsight, Little Chief said she’s glad her husband and friends were there to help.
“If we were a minute later he would have been way further down the road with how fast he was going. So it was perfect timing.”
Rodh said the group didn’t think twice about helping.
“We didn’t do it to be heroes … it was just all on impulse. We just wanted the baby [to be] safe.”