Dude, where’s my (friend’s) car?
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY AND KATE MCCANN Sun-Times Media May 21, 2013 11:16AM
Ann and Randy Sundberg | Supplied photo
Updated: June 24, 2013 1:02PM
A Manhattan couple leaving a Brad Paisley concert at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park earlier this month headed to a Denny’s Restaurant for a late-night snack, as was their little tradition after country music concerts.
But the evening took an odd twist when they realized they had an unwitting — and allegedly drunk — stowaway in the back of their truck. After they pulled into the restaurant’s parking lot, a 20-year-old Naperville man, who had mistaken their truck for a friend’s, hopped out of their pickup truck bed.
“We had no idea he was there,” Ann Sundberg said Tuesday, adding that neither she nor her husband Randy had a drink that night.
Dalton Henninger told police he was wandering the amphitheatre parking lot after the May 11 show when he decided to climb into the bed of the couple’s truck, mistaking it for a friend’s, according to Mokena police. He told police he “passed out drunk,” only to awaken when the truck started driving away.
It wasn’t until the truck stopped in Denny’s parking lot that the couple realized he was there.
She has owned the new 2013 Ford F250 pickup since January, but never even placed so much as a bag of groceries in its bed, she said. They parked at the far end of the lot so no one would “ding the doors.”
“I was looking for my debit card and was oblivious to what was going on. I heard someone say, ‘Wow! What a ride,’ and thought it was one of the motorcyclists who also pulled into the lot,” Sundberg said.
Her husband, Randy, got out of the truck and saw Henninger jump out of the bed.
“He said, ‘What the hell are you doing in my truck?’ ” Ann Sundberg said.
Randy Sundberg had Henninger by his jacket and then let him go, saying, “ ‘Get out of my face,’ ” Ann Sundberg said.
Her husband went to check the truck while Henninger walked away. But when the Sundbergs discovered that Henninger had vomited in the bed of the new truck, Randy Sundberg went after him to make him clean it up. Meanwhile, Ann called police.
“As mad as my husband was, I thought I might be paying bail instead of filing a police report,” Ann Sundberg said.
According to Ann Sundberg, Henninger said he thought he was in his friend’s truck, which was blue. Hers is black.
“It was a country concert. There were pickup trucks everywhere,” she said.
But Henninger, of 24 W. 641 Springdale Drive, Naperville, mistakenly chose hers. He was charged with criminal trespass to a vehicle, disorderly conduct and illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor, according to police.
Calls to Henninger were not returned.
Ann Sundberg, the mother of two sons, 18 and 20, and a daughter, 16, said she has “mixed emotions” about pressing charges.
“I feel sorry for him but I’m still mad,” she said. “If something happened to him that night while we were driving, we would have been liable. He needs to know that what he does has repercussions on other people.”
After leaving the police station early Sunday morning, the Sundbergs’ first stop was the nearest car wash.
“I wanted that vomit out of my truck,” Ann Sundberg said.
Now, she said, her husband is insisting that they buy a locked cover for the bed of the truck, which could cost at least $1,000. And he won’t allow his daughter to drive it until it’s covered.
“I know the odds of that happening twice are slim,” she said. “It’s really kind of weird. There’s never been anything in the bed of my truck except a drunk kid.”
The Sundbergs still kept their tradition and went to Denny’s about two hours later.
“By then, I was starving,” Ann Sundberg said.