Man accused of stealing truck, arrested

Moments after Christopher David Williams allegedly drove a stolen Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck into a two-unit apartment house in the 600 block of Grier Street late Monday morning, the engine compartment caught fire and flames quickly engulfed the building’s front porch, city police said.

The 33-year-old homeless man managed to get out of the truck on his own, and the two tenants who lived in an upstairs apartment safely escaped the structure, police said.

The first-floor apartment was vacant.

Williams allegedly stole a truck owned by Danny Hamilton while the keys were in the ignition and the engine was running outside 707 Second Ave. about 11:35 a.m., Patrolman Nicholas Carrita said.

Taken into custody at the scene, Williams, who was not injured, told a judge hours after his arrest that he took the vehicle because he was cold.

After jumping into the truck, Williams drove on the sidewalk, striking a sign, Carrita said in an affidavit.

Williams then struck the side of a parked Cadillac before making his way to Grier Street, where he first struck the front porch at 681-683 Grier St. and then traveled a block south and “driving directly into 661 Grier St., where both the vehicle and the home” caught fire, Carrita said.

City firefighters were on the scene within minutes and quickly brought the fire under control. Structural fire damage was confined to the front porch, fire officials said.

The two tenants on the second floor were allowed to return to their apartment, fire officials said.

Arraigned before District Judge Jerry C. Lepley on charges of felony theft, felony criminal mischief, recklessly endangering and driving with a suspended license, Williams was committed to the Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $50,000 bail.