BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY – Authorities in Bartholomew County are warning drivers to be cautious before stopping to assist anyone on the side of a road after two carjackings targeting Good Samaritans were reported this month.
On Saturday, Michael Clemenz and his wife pulled over on I-65 North near Columbus to check on a car in a ditch. They called 911 to report the accident and when they got out of their SUV, they saw a 19-year old man and a 12-year old girl.
"I told them… help is on its way. You guys alright?” recalled Clemenz. “He said ‘yeah’ just kind of like nudged me out of the way."
As Clemenz and his wife examined the accident site closer, the two young people jumped into his Buick Rendezvous and sped off.
"By the time we looked up, they're in our car taking off,” he said. "I told the 911 operator, they stole my car!"
This is the second carjacking this month in Bartholomew County which took place at the scene of an accident. Sheriff Matt Myers wants drivers to be cautious if they decide to pull over to help someone on the side of a road.
“I'm not gonna tell people not to stop to render aid to people who are involved in accidents, but do so knowing that you're putting your life in danger," he said adding that you should always call 911 immediately. “It'd be smart to turn your car off, and maybe lock the doors."
The 19-year-old driver, Rodolfo Gonzales Ramirez, led police on a chase before crashing Clemenz’s SUV. Both he and the 12-year-old girl were arrested. Authorities said they were runaways from Florida.
"I was dumbfounded,” said Clemenz. "There's no words to it. It's just like I can't believe this is happening."
Ramirez is facing a long list of charges including auto theft and criminal recklessness.