HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Hendersonville man chased two accused car thieves and helped police crack the case last Sunday.
The stolen car belonged to a pizza delivery driver who reportedly left his keys inside.
Police say the two who took it are 14 and 15 years old –and they could’ve killed someone.
It happened around 1 p.m. this past Sunday when the deliveryman went to a motel on Gallatin Road.
Two brothers jumped inside the car after it was left unattended and took off.
Brandan Delong served in the U.S. Marines from 2009 until last year. He now lives in Hendersonville and says he was on the way to the airport near the bypass when it all went down.
Delong told News 2 he was behind his friend when he watched the stolen pizza delivery car smash into his friend’s Volvo.
“We thought we blew a tire at first,” he said. “There was big smoke and no front of the other car.”
The collision was tremendous, and amazingly nobody was hurt.
“We were going 25. They were going at least 90, I think. My other buddy said, ‘They are running!’ You can’t leave the scene of a crime like that,” Delong explained.
The 25-year-old told News 2 he ran behind the teenagers along the side of the road without yelling out to them.
“No, I was stealthy. I didn’t want them to know I was there,” Delong said.
“I got them. He started crying and then I let go of him when I realized how young he was,” he added. “I felt bad, and then he got up and ran again and I said, ‘Well, I have his phone and I’m not chasing him again.’”
Delong told News 2 the teenager told him his name as well as his brother’s, so the marine called their father on the teen’s cell phone.
The boy’s father came to the scene and reportedly claimed the thief wasn’t his son, but that changed when Delong showed the man a picture of the teen on the cell phone.
To the kids, Delong says, “Come on, don’t be stupid. You got a life ahead of you. Why even do stuff like that?”
The two boys are reportedly still in juvenile detention in Sumner County.
The police chief says he thanks the marine, saying citizen involvement where citizens “do not expose themselves to danger” helps make the city a safer place.