Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Killdozer, A Rampaging Tank, and Drunken Nuns on Tractors

It's the stuff of Hollywood movies. Is there anything as frightening as being chased by a really big, powerful, diesel powered machine on a rampage?

The rampaging construction equipment scenario actually does happen, maybe more frequently than you'd expect. I googled up machines on a rampage, went from one link to another and came up with a fairly long list of rogue earthmovers, from out of control tractors (including the "killdozer" shown top left) to army tanks. Here are a few:

First of all, there's this news story off the Rueter's wire:
Mar 21 2004, 10:25 WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish Benedictine nun is facing jail for driving a tractor into a car while drunk outside her convent in southwestern Poland, police said on Friday. The 45-year-old nun will be charged with drunk-driving and causing an accident, which carries a prison sentence of up to two years, Dariusz Waluch, police spokesman in the southwestern Polish town of Dzierzoniow, told local news agency PAP. He said the nun was 17 times over the country's legal alcohol limit for driving.

More on this inebriated churchwoman later.

In 2005, Marvin Heemeyer modified a bulldozer into "the killdozer" by attaching concrete block and armor plates to a Komatsu D335A and setting out on a rampage. He knocked down several buildings in Granby, CO, while shooting a hunting rifle from the armored cab, before fatally shooting himself.

Newspaper accounts say that the police were unable to stop killdozer and could only evacuate civilians from the path of the machine. According to one news account, an eyewitness said, "It looked like a futuristic tank." The witness reported he saw a police officer perched on top of the moving vehicle, firing shots into the top. At one point, he said the officer dropped some kind of explosive down the exhaust pipe. "He just kept shooting. The dozer was still going ... it didn't do a thing.'

Reportedly, Heemeyer was upset by something the city government did and went out of control. No one but Heemeyer was killed in the incident.

Colorado must be the place for such occurances. Back in 1998, Thomas Leask fatally shot a man and then took a large piece of road construction equipment on a demolition spree. Leask drove the stolen military surplus front-end loader into the Alma, Colorado's water treatment plant knocking it out of service He also rammed into town hall, a fire station and the Post Office; causing holes that measured 10 feet high and 15 feet wide. Police took him into custody when he left the loader.

In 1995, methamphetamine abuser Shawn Nelson stole a tank (a M-60A3, a 31-foot-long vehicle capable of speeds up to 30 miles per hour. It weighs 57.3 tons when fully loaded for combat and normally carries a 105 mm gun and machine guns) from a National Guard armory and rolled through San Diego, leaving a wake of smashed vehicles, crunched light poles and geysering fire hydrants. The rampage ended when the tank got stuck on a concrete freeway divider and a police officer popped open the door and shot Nelson dead.

And, finally, a recent update to the drunken nun on a tractor story:

Thu Jan 12, 2006 11:49 AM ET WARSAW (AFP) - A Polish nun who caused two accidents while driving under the influence of alcohol informed on a police officer who asked for a bribe to cover up her mishaps.

The 35-year-old policeman has been accused of corruption and faces a possible jail sentence of up to eight years, said Ewa Weglarowicz-Makowska, spokeswoman for the state prosecutor's office in Jelenia Gora, southwest Poland.

The Benedictine nun caused two accidents, the first in 2004, when driving a tractor towing a snowplough, she hit a car parked at the entrance of her convent in the southwestern town of Krzeszow.

A year later, her car ended up in a ditch after she drove at high speed.

Anxious to avoid scandal and particularly worried that her convent would find out, the nun went for help to a friend who was a police officer. The policeman promised her he would make sure no one found out -- in return for a payment of 3,000 zlotys (790 euros, 960 dollars) Weglarowicz-Makowska said.

"When the policeman demanded another payment of 3,000 zlotys to keep the second accident under wraps, she decided to inform on him," the spokeswoman added.


Anonymous said...

I'm sure it was just a typo, but that San Diego tank incident was in 1995 not 2005.

Milan said...

The behaviour of the officer firing his gun on top of the 'killdozer' and dropping an explosive device into it strikes me as extremely unlikely. I would imagine that police in Colorado are not trained to deal with such situations in the manner of Indiana Jones.

Anonymous said...

The story of the brave young cop who climbed up the (slowly) moving killdozer, shot at the welded-closed top door, and then dropped an explosive down the exhaust pipe was reported in the national news as well as the two large Denver papers.

So it *must* be true.