A 21-year-old Merced, Calif., man landed behind bars July 12 after leading authorities on a wild chase through Merced and Mariposa counties while hauling construction equipment with a stolen flatbed truck, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Marc Nardoni was captured July 12 on California Highway 49, just south of the Bagsby Bridge after authorities used a commercial logging truck to block the winding mountain roadway, according to Kristie Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the Mariposa Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities said Nardoni stole a Ford F-550 flatbed utility truck from Olive Avenue in Merced and was chased into Mariposa County. A California Highway Patrol aircraft joined the chase on Highway 132 around 3:15 p.m., near the Horseshoe Bend Recreation area.
Deputies followed the truck for another 25 minutes as the driver weaved in and out of traffic lanes, at times heading the wrong way against traffic. The driver also pulled on and off the roadway several times with speeds ranging from 20 to about 60 mph, authorities reported.
Officers and deputies considered setting up “stop sticks,” a set of spikes used by law enforcement to deflate tires but opted against it because of possible fire dangers that can stem from sparks that can shoot out when metal rims smash into the roadway.
Instead, authorities worked with a driver of a commercial logging truck, who positioned his large vehicle across both lanes of traffic, shutting down the road completely. The driver’s name was not immediately available.
“The driver of the logging truck was willing and happy to assist,” deputies said in a news release.
Cellphone video shot by a Mariposa County sheriff’s captain and released July 13 shows the driver of the stolen vehicle, later identified by investigators as Nardoni, surrendering to law enforcement.
There were no injuries, deputies said, and no apparent damage to the stolen truck, which they said was “equipped with expensive work equipment and [a] trailer worth thousands of dollars.”
“Due to the driver’s unsafe operation, and the weight of the stolen commercial truck involved, it was important to stop the driver as soon as possible. The size of [the] truck would demolish a smaller passenger vehicle,” Sheriff Doug Binnewies said in the statement. “The communication and coordination between agencies involved helped bring this event to a stop, without injury to anyone.”
Nardoni was booked into the Mariposa County Jail on suspicion of grand theft auto and evading police. His bail was set at $100,000, according to jail records.
Mitchell said the California Highway Patrol is leading the investigation into the theft and subsequent chase.
Nardoni has been arrested at least half a dozen times in Merced County since 2014 on allegations ranging from vandalism and trespassing to theft and burglary, according to jail records.