Police on Wednesday arrested a man accused of stealing a garbage truck from its route in central Boulder, then leading cops on a chase down U.S. 36 before crashing into a median on U.S. 287 in Broomfield.
According to Boulder police spokeswoman Kim Kobel, Daniel Morkert, 26, will face charges that include auto theft, careless driving and eluding a police officer.
Morkert allegedly stole the truck at 3:07 p.m. outside of 2955 E. College Ave. in Boulder, just east of 28th Street. Police say Western Disposal driver Angel Valencia had been working outside of the vehicle, with the keys left in the ignition, at the time of the theft.
"The driver was actively engaged in his route. While he was out, (the suspect) hopped in the front of the cab and took off with it," Western Disposal CEO Frank Bruno said. "(Valencia) was left standing there with a dumpster."
Kobel said the theft was not forcible, and that the driver was at no point threatened.
After taking the wheel, Morkert fled eastbound on U.S. 36, with Boulder police following from behind.
"He was in a vehicle which he probably didn't know how to drive," Kobel said. "With how large those trucks were, it could have been a dangerous situation. So we wanted to keep eyes on him."
Assisting in the chase, Boulder County Sheriff's Office deputies deployed spikes in the road near the highway's McCaslin Boulevard exit. One of the front tires was damaged, but the driver continued eastbound.
Boulder police continued the pursuit, which, at that point, had wound down to about 30 mph.
Kobel said Morkert exited U.S. 36 at the on-ramp to Wadsworth Boulevard, driving north on that road before crashing at about 3:30 p.m. into a median at the U.S. 287 loop just south of Midway Boulevard.
After crashing, Morkert was immediately arrested by Broomfield police and taken into the custody of Boulder officers.
No one was injured in the incident, police say. The truck, however, is badly damaged.
"On the right side, a lot of the hydraulics are pretty well destroyed," Bruno said. "It's uncertain how much damage was done with the tires."
Neither Boulder police nor Western Disposal know Morkert's motivation, but Kobel said police are investigating.