Bosses hear a lot of excuses about why their workers straggle in late for work, but the one offered Thursday by an Irvine soils engineer should go down in the record books.
Dean Sakka, 37, told police that he was on his way to work at 6 a.m., sitting at a light at McFadden Avenue and Williams Street in Tustin, when a transient appeared from out of nowhere and tried to yank open the locked doors of his pickup truck.
As Sakka drove away, the man leaped into the bed of his truck, picked up a 20-inch-long metal spike Sakka uses in his work and started pounding the back window of the truck, Sakka told the California Highway Patrol.
Afraid to stop and get out of the truck, Sakka drove east on McFadden a mile to the Costa Mesa Freeway. He hopped on the freeway, where he thought he could attract more attention to his plight.
He did. The CHP switchboard lit up with calls from motorists who had seen a wild-eyed man clinging to the back of a pickup, furiously trying to smash in the window.
As Sakka sped east along the Costa Mesa Freeway, then onto the Santa Ana Freeway, he said, he quickly found that whenever he drove straight and normal, the unwelcome visitor in back vigorously renewed his attack on the back window. So he began driving erratically, zigzagging to keep the man off balance.
He kept this up at speeds of up to 60 m.p.h. and continued deep into the heart of southern Orange County, where a CHP officer leaving morning roll call in San Juan Capistrano was told by superiors to get out on the road and find out what all the commotion was about.
After threading his way through traffic, Officer Paul Golonski caught up with the pickup just north of Avenida Calafia in San Clemente. With the help of San Clemente police, Golonski got Sakka to stop and arrested the unwelcome passenger at gunpoint.
Jesus A. Flores, 21, identified by police as a transient from Santa Ana, was arrested on suspicion of attempted armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon and booked into Orange County Jail.
Shaken but unhurt, Sakka had just one request for the CHP before he resumed his journey to work: Would they please call his boss at Irvine Soils Engineering Inc. and tell why he was late?
The officers readily obliged.