A family of Whittier landscapers who had their pickup truck stolen during a police chase is now back in business thanks to the generous donations from the community.
Andres Benitez and his family lost their truck and some tools after a man ran into their Whittier home, grabbed the car keys, and then drove off with it. A frightening confrontation in the driveway between the carjacker and family members was captured on camera from NewsChopper4 and shown on live TV.
According to the family, it had taken them two weeks to save up for that truck.
Though Benitez says the truck and tools were insured, family members said the truck is now considered evidence due to the fact that it was used in a pursuit and was shot at.
Because the two brothers and their father depend on the truck and tools for their livelihood, the community came together to help them by raising more than $94,000 via GoFundMe. This also included a generous donation of $10,000 made by a rival landscaping company.
Benitez was able to use that money to buy a new truck. He said the support is mind-blowing, and he’ll never forget the generosity that people have shown his family following the terrifying chain of events.
The carjacking incident occurred on Nov. 9 when a man running away from authorities stole three vehicles, including the Benitez truck.
In the middle of a dangerous police pursuit the individual stole a truck after breaking into a family’s home and grabbing the keys. Alex Rozier reports for the NBC4 News on Nov. 9, 2022.
The two-hour chase began when the 32-year-old man sped away from a traffic stop in a sedan. He then rammed into several other vehicles, including police cars and stole a work van from an apartment complex. The driver then collided into a parked Cadillac after hitting the sides of several other vehicles.
Then the man abandoned the stolen van and entered a Whittier neighborhood, where he entered the Benitez family’s house.
Andres Benitez confronted the assailant.
“When I saw that he was going in the house my first reaction was, ‘My mother’s in the house, I’ve got to defend ourselves,'” he said. “I grabbed the first kitchen knife I saw and I was like, ‘Bro, you’ve got to get out the house or I’m going to have to stab you, right now.'”
The man then grabbed the keys and stole the family truck, while Benitez and his family watched, completely unable to stop him.
After a two-hour chase, the driver was finally apprehended at a gas station by authorities.