Monday, February 22, 2016

Man’s backhoe joyride damages Florida bridge

A Florida man faces a string of felony charges and traffic violations after he stole a backhoe and caused more than $30,000 in damage to a bridge in the Florida Keys.

The suspect, Carl J. Blahnik, 59, reportedly absconded with the backhoe from a worksite near Marathon, Fla. A video posted by The Miami Herald purportedly shows the rear arm of the backhoe casting a shower of sparks as it was dragged along U.S. Highway 1 on the Seven Mile Bridge.

Get a load of the sparks captured by a police dashcam during the incident.

According to the Florida Department of Transportation, the backhoe damaged hundreds of reflective pavement markers, as well as damaging the bridge’s concrete deck, per the newspaper’s report.

The Herald’s report states that Blahnik, a homeless man whose last reported residence was in Wisconsin, is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, where he faces charges including vehicle theft, reckless driving, fleeing from law officers, aggravated assault, and littering. The newspaper states that he has previous arrests in Wisconsin for fleeing from officers in 2005 and for car theft in 2010.

The joyride began around midnight on Feb. 16, when Blahnik allegedly stole the backhoe from a construction site near Marathon Community Park. According to reports, he traveled to Seven Mile Bridge and used the machine to drop large rocks across the north entrance of the span.

He then tried to make a breakaway to the south end of the bridge, reaching a top speed of 13 miles an hour, before Monroe County Sheriff’s Office patrol cars cut off his escape. Blahnik apparently executed an abrupt turn and headed north. He continued to drive back and forth across the bridge span for about 90 minutes, until law enforcement was able to use tire puncture devices to bring the backhoe to a standstill.