WAYNETOWN -- A 28-year-old Putnam County man, accused of stealing at least three vehicles earlier Thursday, was seriously injured when he crashed the last of those stolen vehicles into a grain truck in western Montgomery County.
Billy Ray Anderson of Cloverdale crashed a stolen 1998 Chevrolet pickup truck into the driver's side of a semi tractor-trailer loaded with corn at the intersection of State Road 25 and U.S. 136 in Waynetown about 12:45 p.m.
Anderson was trapped in the wreckage for nearly an hour before being taken via ambulance to a nearby park. From there, a helicopter then transported him to St. Vincent Hospital, Indianapolis, with what were reported as life-threatening injuries.
No condition report was available on Anderson at presstime.
The Cloverdale man was reportedly being pursued by police after deputies from the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department spotted the stolen truck -- which reportedly had been taken from Kentland earlier in the morning -- near the Montgomery-Tippecanoe line on U.S. 231.
Anderson evaded authorities, however, even after three of the truck's tires were flattened by stop sticks. He continued southbound toward Crawfordsville before turning westbound on Interstate 74 at approximately 70 mph, police said.
Exiting I-74 at State Road 25, Anderson was headed south toward Waynetown when the pickup ran under the trailer of the semi, which was turning onto the state highway. The pickup caught fire after impact.
The semi driver, Rex Ellingwood, 48, of Waynetown, was uninjured in the Thursday afternoon crash.
Authorities believe the string of vehicle thefts attributed to Anderson began Thursday morning in Jasper County.
Police believe the crashed pickup was at least the third vehicle the suspect had stolen on Thursday. Vehicle thefts that could be related are under investigation in Newton and Pulaski counties as well as Jasper.
Police had no motive for the rash of incidents in which Anderson was allegedly involved. However, authorities said Anderson had told an acquaintance that he planned on "going out with a bang."
The accident caused an estimated 400 pounds of corn to spill onto the roadway. The intersection was closed for several hours while the wreckage and spilled grain were cleaned up.