Rampage Semi Driver Took His Two Kids on Terrifying Rideby Jana Ritter - Published: 9/26/2016
An Orlando man driving a semi-truck without a valid CDL took his two children on a terrifying rampage, slamming into four vehicles and then a police chase that ended in the woods. Police say it was a miracle that nobody was killed and the driver is now in custody facing a slew of charges.
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"He came at such a high rate of speed. He never made the turn. He just clobbered my truck," recalls Richard Wolff, one of the motorists struck during the rampage. "It was a vicious impact. He never touched his brakes or anything, I have no idea why nobody was killed, because that was a vicious, vicious hit.”
According to Daytona Beach Police, Wolff and three other motorists had the bad luck of being in the path of 30-year-old Matthew Berthel on Saturday night. It is still unclear if Berthel had a formal truck driving job despite not having a valid CDL, but he was transporting a load of doors in a semi-truck and was on his way to DeBary when he suddenly began recklessly racing at high speeds. On his route from Beville Road to Clyde Morris Boulevard and through the campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, he first hit Wolff and then two other motorists without even stopping. Several witnesses immediately called 911 reporting that the truck had not only hit several vehicles, but also kept going. "An 18-wheeler just ran, like, five cars over and pulled off," one caller said. An officer was finally able to stop Berthel near the airport on Richard Petty Boulevard and he noticed a little girl crying in the back of the truck's cab. Police would later find out there was a second child endangered in the truck as well.
Berthel suddenly fled from the first officer and headed back in the direction he came, speeding and swerving into oncoming traffic. At that point, he hit a fourth motorist, completely totaling her car and also causing injuries to her leg. "He endangered a lot of people," said the motorist, Katie Geren. Police continued the high-speed chase into Port Orange where they said Berthel stopped behind a 7-Eleven, climbed out of the truck and ran into the woods, dragging his two children with him. At some point he left his son and daughter, ages 7 and 9, and the officers found them first. "Daddy was running because he had a warrant," the children told the police. “But he gave up because he hurt his leg,” they explained. Fortunately the children weren’t injured and family members have since taken custody of them.
Berthel was located a short time later, arrested at the scene and was first taken to the hospital before jail. Not only is he facing a slew of charges from the rampage itself, police say because he didn't have a valid truck driver license to begin with and that will definitely add to the pile.