Police officer Haley Thedford had a moment of terror Sunday morning as she sat in her cruiser, watching as the driver of a pickup she had been chasing revved his engine and headed for Thedford’s car.
Thedford could see his face through the windshields.
“He appeared calm and determined,” Thedford said Monday. “He knew what he was about to do.”
As the pickup hit Thedford’s car, she was knocked into the dashboard-mounted computer. The car’s air bags deployed, causing her to lose sight of the truck.
“I heard him, and I thought he was going to hit me again,” Thedford said. Her front door was smashed in and wouldn’t open. “I crawled to my passenger door, opened it and got out.”
The pickup driver sped away.
The truck and driver were spotted a few hours later in Fort Worth, but the driver escaped on foot, a police spokesman said. Later, the suspect, Josue Pablo Mendez-Guerrero, was arrested at the Fort Worth home of his brother.
“He was found passed out on a floor,” police Lt. Christopher Cook said.
Mendez-Guerrero of Fort Worth remained in the Arlington City Jail on Monday night, facing charges of evading arrest and aggravated assault on a public servant. Bail was set at $53,000.
Because he was not arrested for several hours after the crash, he does not face a driving while intoxicated charge, police said.
Thedford, 27 and married with no children, has been on the Arlington force for four years. She talked about the crash Monday at the Arlington police station. Amazingly, she was not seriously injured, just sore.
Thedford said she had stopped for gas early Sunday at a 7-Eleven near Texas 360 when a truck sped out of the parking lot, almost hitting her car and another truck.
The officer pursued the pickup on Texas 360 in a chase that reached 100 mph.
The pickup took the Six Flags Drive exit off the freeway. The driver lost control on Watson Road and spun out, hitting a concrete barrier. When the pickup stopped, it was facing the patrol car.
As the driver revved the engine, Thedford managed to move her patrol car just enough that the truck hit the front of the vehicle and not the door on her side.
Mendez-Guerrero later told authorities that he intentionally rammed Thedford’s patrol car so he could escape, police said.
The officer’s mother, Lisa Thedford of Rice, said Monday that the crash was very disturbing. Rice is about 60 miles southeast of Arlington.
“It was shocking,” Lisa Thedford said.
But she said the family supports her daughter and her career as a police officer. Now, Thedford is on a midnight shift on the city’s east side.
Haley Thedford is scheduled to report back to duty on Thursday.
“I’ll try to put this behind me,” the officer said. “God was watching over me.”