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Woman In Stolen Truck Drags Cop Before Pulling Into McDonald’s To Order Chicken Nuggets

Worcester, MA – A woman in a stolen truck hit a Worcester police officer and dragged him with the vehicle during a harrowing two-hour pursuit on Tuesday morning.

The suspect hit multiple patrol vehicles before pulling off at a McDonald’s drive-thru to order chicken nuggets, according to the owner of the vehicle she allegedly stole.

The incident began at approximately 8:45 a.m. after Worcester police received a report that an unknown female suspect had driven off in a pickup truck owned by Raymond James Restoration, WCVB reported.

The owner of the vehicle and the business, Raymond James Simoncini, had the vehicle equipped with GPS and he was able to track the stolen truck to the area of Pelham Street.

While en route to the last know location of the truck, officers were flagged down by the victim of a hit-and-run crash that occurred on Belmont Street, WCVB reported.

The description of the suspect vehicle matched the description of the stolen truck, police said.

An officer spotted the stolen pickup on Charlton Street shortly thereafter and pulled the driver over, WCVB reported.

But as the officer was approaching the suspect, later identified as 38-year-old Johanna Gardell, she suddenly hit the gas and drove off, police said.

The officer pursued Gardell at a slow speed until she accelerated on Main Street, running through red lights, WCVB reported.

The officer shut off his emergency lights and stopped following Gardell at that point, but it did nothing to deter the suspect’s reckless behavior.

When she entered an area of heavy traffic in the 900-block of Main Street a moment later, Gardell allegedly swerved into the oncoming lane and tried to drive around the traffic that had come to a standstill, WCVB reported.

She crashed into an oncoming van, at which point three nearby officers tried to approach her to stop her, police said.

Gardell refused to surrender and stomped on the accelerator, crashing into one of the patrol vehicles parked behind her, according to police.

One of the officers was hit and dragged by the stolen pickup, kicking off another pursuit, WCVB reported.

The chase was quickly called off due to safety concerns, according to police.

Meanwhile, Gardell pulled off at a McDonald’s drive-thru on Shrewsbury Street to order something to eat, WCVB reported.

“She went to the McDonald’s drive-thru [and] ordered some chicken nuggets,” Simoncini told WHDH.

When she saw two patrol cars pulling in around her, the suspect crashed into one of them in an attempt to escape and ended up getting the stolen truck hung up on an area of mulch at the fast-food joint, police said.

Officers swooped in to take the violent woman into custody as she allegedly fought back against them, police said.

Simoncini told WBZ there were “needles” inside the truck when he went to check out his recovered vehicle.

“Police let me look inside,” he said. “There was drugs in there, there was needles in there, and some blood in her seat.”

Gardell was arrested on charges of operating to endanger, use of a motor vehicle without authority, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended driver’s license, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, malicious mischief to motor vehicle, assault by means of a dangerous weapon, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, leaving the scene of a crash with personal injury, leaving the scene of a crash with property damage, red light violation, marked lanes violation, and failure to stop for police, WCVB reported.

The officer who was hit and dragged by the stolen truck was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to police.

He was back to work two hours later, WBZ reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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