Hilton Head Island tree trimmer Bruce Steed was finishing a job and planning to load up his dump truck Friday afternoon when an employee noticed a woman had other plans for the vehicle.
A suspect identified as Candice Baird, 30, of Hilton Head Island had jumped in the dump truck and taken off from Johnson's Greenhouse at Gumtree and Wild Horse roads, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.
She was later charged with grand larceny and providing false information to law enforcement by the Sheriff's Office and DUI and hit-and-run by the S.C. Highway Patrol.
First, though, officers had to catch her.
The chase began with Steed.
"(My employees) said, 'Your dump truck's going down U.S. 278,'" he recalled. "So I said, 'I'm going to get it.'"
Steed told someone to call 911 and immediately got in his own car to follow the truck into Bluffton. The truck was weaving in and out of its lanes and speeding, but Steed caught up with it after the driver stopped to close the open gates in the back of the trailer.
The truck doubled back heading eastbound on U.S. 278, pulled off into the BB&T parking lot on Burnt Church Road and became stuck while trying to drive through the wood line back into the highway, according to Steed.
By that time, the Sheriff's Office had taken over the chase and patrol cars had filled the parking lot.
Capt. Bob Bromage said Baird received minor injuries and allegedly struck another car near Baylor Drive during the chase. Nobody was injured in that incident, though she was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, Sgt. Bob Beres of the Highway Patrol said.
She was also charged with failure to stop for blue lights and no driver's license, according to the jail log.
Baird remains at the Beaufort County Detention Center, awaiting a bond hearing.
Steed said he was relieved the truck didn't make it back onto the highway, where it would have been facing oncoming traffic. He said he didn't recognize the woman or know why she stole the truck.
"I think she was just joy riding," Steed said.