UPDATE: Police arrest man who allegedly stole, crashed truck

  • Police were searching Tuesday for a man who allegedly stole a commercial box truck in South Deerfield before running it off of Hoe Shop Road in Gill and fleeing into the woods while the vehicle was engulfed in flames. An odor of scorched metal still hung in the air around 1:30 p.m. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Police were searching Tuesday for a man who allegedly stole a commercial box truck in South Deerfield before running it off of Hoe Shop Road in Gill and fleeing into the woods while the vehicle was engulfed in flames. An odor of scorched metal still hung in the air around 1:30 p.m. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Police were searching Tuesday for a man who allegedly stole a commercial box truck in South Deerfield before running it off of Hoe Shop Road in Gill and fleeing into the woods while the vehicle was engulfed in flames. An odor of scorched metal still hung in the air around 1:30 p.m. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Police were searching Tuesday for a man who allegedly stole a commercial box truck in South Deerfield before running it off of Hoe Shop Road in Gill and fleeing into the woods while the vehicle was engulfed in flames. An odor of scorched metal still hung in the air around 1:30 p.m. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Police were searching Tuesday for a man who allegedly stole a commercial box truck in South Deerfield before running it off of Hoe Shop Road in Gill and fleeing into the woods while the vehicle was engulfed in flames. An odor of scorched metal still hung in the air around 1:30 p.m. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • A box truck engulfed in flames drew police to Hoe Shop Road in Gill, where they launched a search for a man who allegedly stole the vehicle. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • Police were searching Tuesday for a man who allegedly stole a commercial box truck in South Deerfield before running it off of Hoe Shop Road in Gill and fleeing into the woods while the vehicle was engulfed in flames. An odor of scorched metal still hung in the air around 1:30 p.m. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 9/21/2021 4:09:26 PM

GILL — Police K-9s and at least one helicopter were deployed Tuesday to search for and apprehend a suspect alleged to have stolen a commercial box truck in South Deerfield before running it off the road in Gill and fleeing into the woods while the vehicle was ablaze.

The suspect was eventually found by Greenfield Police Detective Justin Purinton, who was patrolling on a bicycle, at the intersection of Ferrante Avenue and Bernardston Road in Greenfield at around 4:30 p.m., according to Greenfield Deputy Police Chief William Gordon.

“He was arrested on probable cause of some breaking and entering that happened in Greenfield earlier this week,” Gordon said, noting that the same individual is considered a person of interest in Tuesday’s truck theft.

Police initially received a report of a brush fire off Hoe Shop Road in Gill at 10:05 a.m. on Tuesday and Gill Police Sgt. Jason Bassett responded to the scene, reporting a box truck was engulfed in flames, according to Gill Police Chief Christopher Redmond. The Montague Police Department dispatched its K-9 and handler in an attempt to find the missing driver.

Gill and Erving police officers responded as well as Massachusetts State Police troopers, and Greenfield officers were seen monitoring an area on nearby Lampblack Road in Greenfield. A post on the Greenfield Police Department’s Facebook page advised people to avoid Lampblack Road and the Griswold/GTD Conservation Area for the following few hours.

Gill Fire Chief Gene Beaubien said his department was the first to arrive on Hoe Shop Road and had the fire knocked down in 10 to 15 minutes. The Bernardston Fire Department also responded.

An odor of scorched metal still hung in the air around 1:30 p.m., and articles of clothing could be seen hanging on a tree near the crash site, but Redmond said it was unclear if they belonged to the person driving the stolen truck.

“There’s always a lot of trash discarded on this road because of its rural character,” he noted.

The vehicle careened off of Hoe Shop Road just south of the Esker Ridge Trail and the Blake Town Forest kiosk. A town-owned backhoe was used to remove dirt and brush so a tow truck from Rose Ledge, of Erving, could extract from the woods a portion of the charred remains. This process intensified the stench of the burned materials.

The remnants bore little resemblance to a box truck, which was a crisp shell of its former self. Nearly all the tires had been incinerated and the enclosed box used for hauling items had been destroyed.

Ronnie Barnes, president of Endeavour Transportation, Inc., which owns the truck, arrived to identify the vehicle and speak with police officers. He said he had reported the truck as stolen at 8 a.m., having most recently seen it at 9 p.m. on Monday. Barnes said the company owns 10 trucks and the one that was stolen was the only one not registered. He referred to it as a spare.

“That’s my baby,” he said.

Reach Domenic Poli at dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.




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