A BRAVE Crosland Moor man has been hailed a have-a-go hero after chasing down a driver who crashed a stolen van and fled the scene.
Ash Scholefield, 30, chased the 16-year-old across a school field before tackling him and restraining him until police arrived.
The drama unfolded on Wednesday at 11.25am, when Ash – a driver for Honley Skip Hire – was sitting in his truck at traffic lights on Oxford Road in Gomersal.
An Iveco van careered on to the pavement to the left of Ash’s truck and crashed into a tipper lorry which was waiting at the lights. The driver of the van climbed out of the window and ran off.
Ash instinctively jumped from his own cab and chased the 16-year-old for about 1,000-metres across a school field.
Despite the teenager wearing running shoes and Ash being in his work rigger boots, he managed to catch up and tackle him.
Ash knew just how to restraining the struggling youth – he is a black belt instructor in aikido martial arts at Huddersfield Sports Centre.
He put the teenager in a wrist lock and marched him back to the scene of the accident and restrained him until police officers arrived 15 minutes later.
Ash said: “I managed to restrain him in the safest possible way without doing him permanent injury. I told him he was a stupid idiot because he could have been dead. He must have hit the truck at 40mph.
“I said he was absolute scum as far as I was concerned because if it had been a time when kids were coming out of school someone could well have died. That’s the main reason why I was so pleased I caught him.”
Police checks revealed that the van had been stolen from Wakefield the day before. The 16-year-old, from Leeds, was arrested and has been bailed pending further inquiries.
Ash, who has two children aged five and two, says his family are proud of his achievement.
“My mum and her partner are both in the police at Huddersfield and they are very proud and so are my kids.
“I have never chased anyone down and caught them before so that was quite satisfying. It was quite entertaining really. It gives you a buzz to catch someone – especially when they are young and fit and wearing running shoes.”
Ash is harbouring ambitions to catch criminals in future – he has applied to be a special constable with West Yorkshire Police.
He said: “I had applied already because it’s something I am interested in and I totally disagree with criminals. Maybe all this will help with my application!”
No-one was injured in the accident. Anyone who witnessed it or has information should contact police on 0845 6060606.