Crime

A 2-hour chase for a stolen truck ended in a Worcester McDonald’s drive-thru

"She was ordering chicken nuggets and they actually held her up."

Worcester police arrested a woman ordering McDonald’s in a stolen truck on Tuesday morning after a two-hour chase for the vehicle. 

“She was actually in the drive-thru ordering food and that’s when they got her,” said Raymond James Simoncini, owner of the truck who witnessed the arrest.

The woman was later identified as 38-year-old Johanna Gardell of Oriol Drive in Worcester. “She backed into somebody in the drive-thru to try to escape the cops,” said Simoncini. “She ended up in a flower bed.”

According to the Worcester Police Department, officers were dispatched at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday morning after Raymond James Restoration Inc. reported a stolen company vehicle. Gardell then got into the maroon pick-up truck and drove off of the 11 Lake Ave site while workers were unloading materials.

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Simoncini, who owns the restoration company, said no one saw Gardell take the car, but security footage shows her driving away with the car after trying to break into other vehicles. 

The truck had a GPS tracking device, which allowed police to follow Gardell throughout the area for the next few hours. Worcester police reported they were met with a driver whose car was hit by the stolen truck while following her to Pelham St.

Police chased Gardell, who refused to pull over but called the chase off twice due to safety concerns. Gardell was seen running red lights and driving in the wrong direction, as well as crashing into multiple vehicles.

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Later, two detail officers and another officer attempted to stop Gardell and pull her out of the vehicle. Worcester police reported one of these officers was hit and dragged by Gardell and is in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. 

Simoncini said he noticed the truck’s location stopped at the Worcester McDonald’s on Shrewsbury Street while looking at the GPS. 

“She was ordering chicken nuggets and they actually held her up,” Simoncini said. “The officers called ahead to hold her and slow down the line.”

While being extracted from the car and arrested, Simoncini said Gardell continued to tell officers the truck belonged to her.

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The truck was damaged from the various crashes, but Simoncini said he is not sure of the truck’s condition. “It looks pretty bad, but I’m not an insurance adjuster,” Simoncini said.

The Worcester District Attorney’s Office said Gardell faces 15 charges – including Assault and Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon, Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Personal Injury, and Resisting Arrest.

The DA’s office said Gardell is pleading not guilty and will appear in court next Tuesday, July 13.

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