HAMPTON, Illinois – One of East Moline’s newest fire trucks suffered heavy damage after a man almost drove it into the Mississippi.
Police say Nathan Stottler stole the fire truck while its crew was inside an East Moline business doing a routine inspection.
The truck did not have keys in it and was not running. Stottler had an altercation on a city bus right before taking the truck, officials said, and East Moline Fire Chief Rob DeFrance said he might have had some knowledge of operating big rigs.
East Moline Police Captain Tom Reagan said, “First time in 24 years that someone has stolen a fire truck.”
Police said after Stottler crashed the truck on Hampton’s river bank, he jumped in the river to avoid police. They fished him out and took him to the hospital, where police said he awaits a trip to jail.
Hampton Fire Chief Dave Johnson said, “We’ve had some different calls before, but I really didn’t think we’d have one like this.”
Johnson said you don’t hear a crime like this happening anywhere.
East Moline’s fire chief said they bought the pumper back in 2009 at a cost of $375,000. The chief said it’s one of the newest in the fleet. They have a backup truck. City mechanics are checking to see if the pumper can be repaired.
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