NOLANVILLE — A stolen U-Haul truck erratically hit a guardrail, lost control and rolled over several times before landing in a muddy culvert under U.S. Highway 190/Interstate 14 in Nolanville this morning, police said.
The Nolanville Police Department received a call at approximately 6:45 a.m. about a U-Haul truck driving erratically westbound along the highway from Belton, according to Nolanville Police Chief Dan Porter.
As the vehicle crossed Nolan Creek near Nolanville, it hit a guard rail and lost control. Then, it crashed into the median and started flipping over before continuing into a culvert of Nolan Creek. The driver of the vehicle fled the scene.
Authorities located the lone occupant of the vehicle, the driver, at a convenience store/gas station on South Main Street near U.S. 190 Friday morning, after he fled the scene, said Nolanville Police Chief Dan Porter.
Two bloodhounds from the Bell County Sheriff's Department assisted in the search, Porter said, though the dogs did not actually pursue the suspect. They instead gave the officers the general direction the suspect had moved.
A call came in from an employee of the convenience store, Porter said. Officers then reported to the store and took the suspect in custody.
The suspect, who has not yet been named, was transported to Scott & White Medical Center in Temple for treatment of cuts and scrapes to his head and face.
The suspect will be charged with fleeing the scene of an accident and felony vehicle theft, Porter said.
Nolanville Police reached out to the U-Haul company and learned the vehicle had been returned by the renters Thursday evening at approximately 7 p.m. to a location in Temple, Porter said. It was stolen at some point overnight.
The Temple Police Department received a call at 9:01 a.m. Friday that reported two vehicles and a drop box with keys were stolen from U-Haul Moving & Storage of South Temple, 215 SW HK Dodgen Loop. The caller said a cargo van and a 15-foot box truck were missing, Ellen Morton, Temple Police spokeswoman, said.
The suspect's name will be released once he is released from the hospital and booked into the Bell County Jail, Porter said.
Porter said a fireman who responded to the scene said the U-Haul truck's cargo area was empty. The chief said officials, including multiple tow trucks, cleared the scene, and other than about a "quart of transmission fluid," there is no environmental damage to the water in the culvert and adjacent Nolan Creek.
Within minutes of the first crash, another accident took place along the same stretch of the highway, involving two cars. One car rear-ended the other in the slowing traffic caused by the first crash. The Texas Department of Public Safety handled that crash, while Nolanville police investigated the U-Haul crash.
All lanes of the highway have been reopened.
Deborah McKeon with FME News Service contributed to this report.