by: Richard Elliot Updated:
ATLANTA, Ga. - Atlanta police continue to search for an unidentified driver
who caused a chain-reaction crash on the Buford Connector Saturday afternoon, then ran away even as a Channel 2 Action News camera caught the entire incident on video.
The crash happened at about 4 p.m. Saturday. Channel 2's Liz Artz and photographer Justin Crate spotted a stopped pickup truck blocking one northbound lane of the traffic. As Artz called 911, Crate began shooting video.
The video clearly shows the unidentified driver passed out behind the wheel of the truck. When a Georgia Department of Transportation HERO unit arrived, the driver checked on the man's condition. In the police report, the officer noted that the HERO driver
"did not smell any odor of an alcoholic beverage, but the driver did, however, remind him of a diabetic."
As the driver regained consciousness, he turned on his engine and drove away, narrowly missing the HERO driver. Moments later, the video shows as the man crashes his pickup truck into the rear of two cars, setting of a chain-reaction five car pileup. Luckily, no one was hurt.
The HERO unit checked on the driver and took away his keys, but before police arrived, the man took off running. He climbed a barbed wire fence, jumped over and disappeared onto Monroe Drive.
Atlanta police impounded the Dodge pickup and know the vehicle is registered to an owner in Maryland. They said it is not stolen, and they are still looking for the runaway driver.
GDOT Spokesperson Natalie Dale said their HERO drivers are not trained as law enforcement and are told to avoid impaired and disgruntled drivers. She did, however, praise the job this driver did trying to stop the man from driving off. She declined to release the driver's name.
"Engaging with impaired or disgruntled drivers, that's not really their jobs," said Dale. "But often times, they do go above and beyond their job. We are very fortunate
that in his incident that everybody came out OK, that the only casualties in all this were some cars. Our heroes are out there everyday doing heroic and dangerous things. This just happened to be caught on camera."
police said they are looking into why it took an extended period of time from the initial 911 call before the crash to when an officer arrived.