Scattering sodas, he ran the truck into a cruiser and a taxi, injuring two, deputies say.
"Big John" Nipper wasn't too surprised when somebody woke him up around 3:30 Saturday morning. That happens pretty often, he said.
"It's rowdy down here on Friday," Nipper said.
But what he saw outside his trailer, "takes the cake," Nipper said. "I looked out and see a Pepsi truck in my front yard and people hauling a-- with pop."
He also saw Richard Goleniewski, Nipper said, the guy who had been staying in the trailer next to Nipper's. Goleniewski told Nipper he had had a fight with his girlfriend and had stolen the fully loaded truck, valued at $35,000.
Someone called the police and Goleniewski, 37, took off, scattering Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Dr Pepper.
For the next few minutes, according to authorities, Goleniewski careened along, striking a cruiser, a power pole, a taxi and a ditch. Then, he ran from police _ back to the spot where Nipper first saw him in the truck.
"This is better than TV," Nipper said.
Deputy Mike Hughes arrived at the King of the Hill trailer park, 5701 Haines Road, just as Goleniewski was trying to leave. The truck rammed his cruiser and kept going, sheriff's spokesman Greg Tita said.
Hughes still was able to take off after the truck, which headed west on 54th Avenue, Tita said. He did not know how fast the pursuit was, Tita said, but he did not believe it reached high speeds, in large part because of the kind of vehicle Goleniewski was driving.
"This was not a burn-rubber-at-70-mph Pepsi truck, I don't think," Tita said.
Near 32nd Street, the truck clipped a power pole, Tita said. It hit a taxi broadside at 34th Street.
The taxi driver was seriously injured, but the truck didn't stop. It finally crashed into a ditch at 37th Street, at the edge of Lealman Park. Goleniewski took off on foot. The Sheriff's Office started looking for him, calling for dogs and the helicopter, Tita said.
But Nipper and his neighbors found Goleniewski first. He apparently headed on foot straight back to the trailer park, more than a mile away.
"I told him to get out of my yard. Kids took off after him and chased him to the store (on Haines Road). I've been laid up. I couldn't chase nobody," Nipper said. "The kids got a-hold of him and beat him half stupid."
Goleniewski was taken to Northside Hospital to be checked for injuries before he was transferred to the Pinellas County Jail, Tita said.
He was being held there Saturday in lieu of $120,000 bail, charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, fleeing and eluding police and grand theft auto. More charges are expected relating to the traffic accidents, Tita said.
The driver of the taxi, Scott G. Klawitter, 26, of St. Petersburg was in Bayfront Medical Center. Tita said Klawitter had broken ribs, a broken pelvis and other internal injuries.
Deputy Hughes was treated at Northside Hospital for neck and shoulder pain and was released.
By midmorning Saturday, the only evidence of the excitement in the trailer park was a few scattered soda cans.
The back part of the park, where he lives, is a better place than it was, Nipper said. "It was rough down here a couple of years ago _ a bunch of drunks and crackheads _ but we've started cleaning things up. It isn't the best place in the world, but it's home.
Nipper said there was nothing unusual about the street in front of his house being full of people in the wee hours of Saturday.
"There's never a dull moment here on Friday night," Nipper said. "Usually, it's just everybody having fun, but this here was stupidity."