Manitoba

Man charged with theft, impaired driving after Winnipeg police chase stolen fire truck

A 36-year-old faces a string of charges in connection with a Friday afternoon incident where police chased a stolen fire truck through downtown Winnipeg.

A 36-year-old man faces 8 charges in connection with a chase that caused more than $5,000 in damage

A 36-year-old man faces charges in connection with a Friday afternoon police chase involving a stolen fire truck. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

A 36-year-old man faces a string of charges in connection with a Friday afternoon incident that involved more than a dozen police vehicles chasing a stolen fire truck through downtown Winnipeg.

Police allege the man stole a Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service fire truck around 12:30 p.m. Friday. It was parked in front of an apartment block on Henderson Highway, near the Chief Peguis Trail, while crews attended a call.

Police say the man then drove the fire truck southbound down Henderson Highway, emergency lights flashing and air horn blaring.

A person driving a half-ton truck down Henderson Highway at Donalda Avenue saw the fire truck coming up behind them, and pulled over to allow the vehicle to pass. According to police, the man driving the fire truck made no attempt to avoid the stopped half-ton and rear-ended it, propelling it into a hydro pole, which was sheared off.

The half-ton was severely damaged and the downed hydro pole caused power outages into the early evening, but the driver of the pickup was not injured, police said.

An off-duty firefighter who saw the collision noticed the fire truck was not being operated by WFPS personnel and called police.

The stolen truck then continued into the downtown area, and was pursued by several police vehicles as it reached speeds of up to 70 km/h, police said. The emergency vehicle was driven through the downtown for about 15 minutes, with pedestrians fleeing as it sped through Central Park.

A stolen fire truck highlighted how tight the WFPS fleet of vehicles is as several are in the shop for maintenance. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Police allege the 36-year-old drove the truck the wrong way down several one-way streets and went through numerous red lights. Behind Portage Place Mall, the truck smashed into a traffic bollard and wall, causing about $5,000 in damage, police said.

Officers deployed several tire-deflation devices, which eventually forced the truck to stop on Assiniboine Avenue under the Midtown Bridge. Police said an officer used a stun gun on the driver before he was taken into custody.

A stolen fire truck in Winnipeg was seen swerving toward pedestrians during a frantic police chase. 1:35

The chase captured the city's attention, with sightings of the stolen truck being shared across social media.

Police said Saturday a 36-year-old man has been charged with theft of a motor vehicle, dangerous operation of a conveyance, operation of a conveyance while impaired, possession of a weapon, fleeing while pursued by a peace officer and driving without a valid licence.

He was also charged with two counts of failing to stop at the scene of an accident.

The man was detained in custody.