Man Who Fled Zombies: What Did Jeremiah Hartline Tell Police After Stealing Big-Rig Full Of Strawberries?

By Philip Ross on May 14, 2013 10:52 AM EDT

man fled zombies
Zombies have become ubiquitous in entertainment, but some people can’t seem to distinguish between fact and fiction. Pictured, actors dressed as zombies in Belgrade, Serbia, promote the U.S. TV series “The Walking Dead.” (Photo: Reuters)
man who fled zombies 2
Jeremiah Hartline, 19, caused a series of car wrecks on a California highway and blamed his reckless behavior on zombies. (Photo: Riverside County Sheriff’s Dep)

A man who fled zombies caused quite a spectacle in Southern California when he hijacked a big-rig full of strawberries to escape the walking dead.

According to the International Business Times, 19-year-old Jerimiah Hartline, who is from Tennessee, holed up in a tractor-trailer bound for the West Coast. When the driver of the big-rig reached a weigh station in Temecula, Calif., on April 6, Hartline took the opportunity to commandeer the vehicle and sped off down Interstate 15.

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In the process, he caused a number of car wrecks and injured seven people. He eventually crashed the vehicle, which overturned, spilling its load of strawberries. Fortunately, no one was killed in the incident.

Even the strawberries survived the terrifying ordeal, and the unspoiled produce was donated to local food pantries and nonprofits, U-T San Diego reports.

When police finally caught up to and apprehended Hartline, he had a strange motive to give for his reckless big-rig maneuvers: he said he had to dislodge the zombies that clung to the side of the trailer.

"Hartline swerved the truck side to side to shake the zombies off," local Officer Nate Baer told The Mirror back in April.

According to Baer, Hartline was apparently under the influence of a hallucinatory substance when he believed he had to flee zombies.

Hartline pleaded guilty on Monday to assault with a deadly weapon, vehicle theft and a hit-and-run charge following a plea deal. He faces up to five years in jail.

These days, zombies are ubiquitous in pop culture. Television shows like "The Walking Dead" offer a glimpse into an apocalyptic future (albeit a CGIed future) overrun by the undead. Shows like "The Walking Dead" and flicks like "Dawn of the Dead" satiate consumers' appetites for doomsday drama. And because we can't actually live like rogue militias fighting hoards of hungry zombies, actors have to do it for us!

However, for some people, distinguishing between fact and fiction is a little harder.

One website, the Zombie Defense Brigade, created by Spencer Holst and his two brothers, even sells zombie attack survival packs complete with binoculars, a 7-inch survival knife and specialty items like a fireman's axe. The packs go for $125, or $100 with a $14 membership.

"My older brother called me and said, 'Wouldn't it be cool if there was a website that sold only zombie survival kits?'" Holst told The Beachon. "And I was like 'Yeah, that would be awesome.'"'

From the Zombie Defense Brigade website:

When it happens, the spread of infection will be rampant. By the time you realize that the day you have been simultaneously dreading and secretly hoping for has arrived at last, it will be too late to assemble all the gear you'll need to take with you. And if you're lucky enough to have news of the apocalypse delivered in a very personal way by a roommate or family member, you may not even have time to dress for the occasion. Keep the Zombie Survival Pack fully stocked and stored in a readily accessible place, and you just might live long enough to enjoy the Apocalypse after all.

Read more from iScience Times:

Ancient 'Vampire' Skeletons Unearthed In Bulgaria

Hamster Rises From Dead: How Did Zombie Hamster 'Tink' Rise From Her Flower Bed Grave?

Zombie Bees Spread To Washington State

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