MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (FOX 9) - Seconds after a suspect allegedly stole a truck with four young children inside, the children’s father jumped into another vehicle, which the suspect had abandoned at the scene, to save them.
According to the Minneapolis Police Department, around 8:40 p.m. Wednesday, a suspect arrived near Russell Avenue North and Eighth Avenue N in a stolen van. The suspect got out of that van and stole a nearby truck, which had four children all under the age of 6 years old inside.
Officers said the children’s father then jumped into the stolen van left behind by the suspect.
"I look over and the van that he jumped out of is still running door wide open, and I was like, ‘I'm taking this van. I'm going after my kids,’" said the children’s father, Derek Gotchie.
Gotchie, a stay-at-home dad from Burnsville, told FOX 9 the situation unfolded after he backed his truck into a friend’s driveway to drop something off. His wife went inside the home and asked him to close the trunk. It was in those few seconds when the suspect got into his truck, locked the doors and drove off.
He chased down his own truck, eventually reaching the intersection of Plymouth Avenue North and Penn Avenue North.
"You don't know what you're going to do until you're in that position. You don't know how you would react," Gotchie said. "All that matters to me is that my kids came home with me that night. And I knew they're going home with me no matter what because I'd do anything to get my kids back."
Derek Gotchie refused to let a car thief get away in his vehicle, that his four young children inside.
Both vehicles had been going the wrong way down a one-way street, so Gotchie made the difficult decision to rear-end his own truck with his children still inside.
"I run up, I peek up the kids. And I look at (the suspect). He's running away, he turns around and he's just yelling, ‘I'm sorry,’" Gotchie said.
Police said the suspect ran away before they arrived. Forensic scientists processed and collected evidence from the scene. Officers said no injuries were reported in the incident. The incident is still under investigation, and the department did not say whether any arrests have been made.
Gotchie and his wife, Deanah, are still trying to process what happened, and they had to explain the situation to their oldest child, who is 5.
"The whole night he just kept asking where the bad guy went and what does the bad guy want. That was the toughest part because we had to explain to him how people grow up different and don't have things. And that's not really a conversation that we think we would have to have with our 5-year-old," Gotchie said.
A family friend set up a GoFundMe page to help cover insurance expenses and other costs as the couple and their children try to come to terms with what happened.