A bizarre, low-speed chase tied up side streets and part of Interstate 30 on Sunday evening, all because of a stolen forklift.
Fort Worth police received a call about a possible DWI vehicle south of the Texas Christian University campus at about 6:40 p.m. (Read more:Commentary | Forklift Used in Bizarre Joy Ride)
Shortly after that, Nathan Lowery of Fort Worth was driving south on South University Drive to get gas, but what he saw had him turning around. Lowery spotted the forklift going north and started rolling with his iPhone before posting about 12 minutes of video on YouTube.
"He's just hanging off -- no T-shirt, driving crazy. That's when we decided to make a U-turn and got my phone out and started filming from there," said Lowery, a former Marine and current University of Texas at Arlington student.
The video shows the forklift veering erratically across traffic and the lift raising to as high as traffic lights and power lines. Then, after turning into and out of a shopping center, the forklift is shown nearly hitting several vehicles.
During the whole ordeal, both police and witnesses say the suspect, Timothy Raines of Fort Worth, was drinking beer and throwing the empties at passing vehicles.
"He would chug a beer and throw it back at the police officers," Lowery said. "Just veer left and right, left and right."
The forklift was taken from the Holiday Inn construction site at Rosedale Street and Forest Park Boulevard. The construction vehicle is owned by Kent Companies, which is building the parking garage at the site.
Company officials said they've never employed or heard of Raines. They were notified of the incident at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday by another contractor who saw it sitting on the freeway.
"I thought they were lying to me," said Brian McKinney, Kent Co. site supervisor.
McKinney said Raines took out the fence guarding the site when he drove off down Rosedale Street. Officials with the company were told he drove down Rosedale and then Eighth Avenue in the Near South Side, eventually crossing over to South University Drive.
But the forklift wasn't the first vehicle Raines may have tried to take.
"We had a little forklift stuck in the mud, and a Cooper's Excavator with the doors open on it," McKinney said.
The chase finally came to an end in the middle of westbound I-30, about 20 minutes after Lowery started following the chase.
At one point, Raines jumped off the forklift, taunted police with obscene gestures and jumped back on the vehicle. Fort Worth police said an officer tried to hit Raines with a Taser but missed.
A few minutes later, under Hulen Street, Raines gave up, but not before throwing the forklift in reverse. An officer had to jump on it to prevent it from hitting patrol cars.
Officers took Raines into custody without incident. His dog, along for the whole ride, was not injured and was taken by animal control.
Raines faces several charges, including the theft of the forklift, aggravated assault and felony DWI, because he has two prior DWIs according to police. Fort Worth police also found a car registered to Raines abandoned on the freeway near where the chase came to an end.
McKinney said the forklift is strong enough to have caused significant damage to cars or personnel. He said if the forklift had hit live wires, Raines could have been electrocuted.
Lowery and his roommate said they found the incident funny at times, but agree with police that it could have been much worse.
"It was interesting. The thing was, no one was hurt," Lowery said.
He said they didn't see anyone get injured or any vehicle accidents. Lowery said he felt safe because he stayed behind police the whole time they followed along.