Florida

How fast can you go on a stolen forklift? Florida man makes it across two counties

Nicolas Powell, 22, was arrested and charged by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office on grand theft of a forklift and other charges on July 22, 2018. According to deputies, Powell led them on a “low speed” chase across two counties in northeastern Florida near Jacksonville.
Nicolas Powell, 22, was arrested and charged by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office on grand theft of a forklift and other charges on July 22, 2018. According to deputies, Powell led them on a “low speed” chase across two counties in northeastern Florida near Jacksonville. Clay County Sheriff's Office

A forklift can safely go at the speed of a fast walk or maybe up to about 8 mph, according to Quora, a website that presumes to know such things.

Go faster, say 20 mph outdoors on rough terrain, and the driver’s body will be “punished horribly,” the site says.

That didn’t stop a Florida man from leading deputies on a chase across two counties in northeastern Florida on Sunday, News4Jax reported.

Nicolas Powell was on the forklift. Deputies from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office were in patrol cars. Powell managed to lead them on a “low-speed” — but, of course — chase from Clay County to Duval County.

Powell, 22, was finally arrested after he pulled off the highway onto a grass lot at a gas station east of Interstate 295 in Jacksonville, News4Jax said.

WOKV News 104.5 reported that Powell stole a Sunbelt Rentals forklift in Orange Park after midnight and he refused to stop when Clay County deputies tried to perform a traffic stop.

According to the arrest report, someone called deputies around 12:45 a.m. to tell them that a man was driving a forklift “erratically” on the road and that he “didn’t look like a construction worker.”

“This is absolutely nuts!” ActionJax CBS 47 reporter Russell Colburn tweeted Sunday, with video of the chase in the dark.

Powell was arrested on six charges by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

The charges on his booking report include grand theft, fleeing and eluding police who had lights and sirens active, DUI alcohol or drugs, refusing a field sobriety test, trespassing on a construction site — and a second offense for driving with a suspended license. (The license was originally suspended in 2015, the report said.)

Powell’s bond is $29,010. His next court date is Aug. 22.

This is not the first time a Florida man is accused of stealing an odd vehicle to take on a midnight ride where it didn’t belong and leading officers on a “slow speed chase.”

In February 2016, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office arrested Carl Blahnik, a homeless Florida Keys man, accusing him of stealing and damaging a 2015 John Deere backhoe from Sunbelt Rentals in Marathon and using it to drop large rocks across the north entrance of the Seven Mile Bride.

According to the arrest report, Blahnik headed south at 13 mph and nearly made it to the bridge’s south end at mile marker 40 before two sheriff’s patrol cars cut him off.

That move didn’t stop him. He simply reversed and headed north, with deputies in pursuit of the backhoe. He was finally stopped when deputies threw down road spikes to pop its tires.

Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.
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