By DAVID GREEN
It isn’t exactly what Monica Pennington had in mind when she received her federal economic stimulus check.
The Morenci resident cashed the check, placed the money in her purse and later the purse was stolen.
But it’s much worse than that. The purse was in her car, and that was stolen, too.
The incident that started May 6 came to somewhat of a close last Friday with the arrest of Miles Lancelot Thompson, 23, of Alvordton, Ohio. He faces five counts ranging from carjacking to unarmed robbery.
Pennington was driving home about 7 a.m. May 6 from her nursing job in Adrian when she saw an approaching car swerve on Sand Creek Highway.
“He swerved and I thought, ‘That’s going to be an accident,’” she said.
The driver seemed to gain control of the vehicle but suddenly the car was airborne and overturned off the road.
Pennington dialed 911 before she came to a stop and noticed smoke coming from the crashed vehicle. She couldn’t see any movement from inside the car and was asked by the 911 dispatcher for details about the location.
Pennington got out of her vehicle and started to walk toward the nearest intersection to read the street sign. That’s when she heard someone furiously kicking against the back door trying to get out.
She thought it was probably a passenger and maybe a child of the driver. A young man emerged with blood running down his cheek.
“He was in pretty bad shape,” she said. “He tore off his jacket and came running toward me. He looked confused, a little delirious.”
By now she was wondering, “Where is the ambulance? Why haven’t the police arrived?”
“He grabbed ahold of me and started stomping on my foot,” she said.
He reached his hand inside the partially lowered window of her 1992 Pontiac Grand Prix, trying to break open the window. She knew then he wanted to steal her car.
Another passerby arrived, comforted Pennington and walked her away as the accident victim sped off in the Grand Prix.
She received reports about the investigation—the driver stole gasoline in Montpelier, Ohio, was spotted in Blissfield a day later, was last seen in Alvordton—but the story went cold until she heard from police in Sherman, Texas. Her car was found there with Illinois license plates and the driver was to be extradited to Michigan within 10 days.
After the theft, Pennington was visited by police from Pioneer, Ohio, and she identified the accident victim from a photograph. The night before the theft, she was told, Thompson had been stopped by police who suspected driving while under the influence of alcohol. He was released with a promise that he would return home.
Later they learned that he had stolen a car owned by the mayor of Pioneer. It was that 2008 Chrysler Aspen that Pennington watched leave the road and roll over.
And what about a future role as a Good Samaritan?
“I would probably stop again, but I think I’ll stay in my car until the police come,” she said. “I wasn’t injured. It could have been a lot worse.”
And she shudders to think about the situation had her children been in her car.
“He was desperate,” she said. “He was in my vehicle and gone so fast that I hardly knew what was going on.”
From now on, her purse goes with her rather than getting placed under the seat.