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North Platte man locked up after wild rideTell North Platte what you think
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Benjamin C. Fritz

Benjamin Fritz drove smack into the railroad tracks with a pickup in the wee hours Sunday morning, landing him in the hospital for four days. He was promptly arrested and charged with a bevy of crimes Thursday when he got out.

Fritz was hospitalized afer he wrecked his parent's pickup shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday on the main Union Pacific railroad tracks in North Platte.

He drove the Nissan Titan down Oak St. and directly into the tracks. The pickup crossed two sets of tracks and the front end of the pickup came apart. The front nosed into the third set, sending the rear of the pickup over it, and it landed upside down between the third and fourth sets of tracks.

Fritz had to be extricated from the wreckage.

Fritz's wild night began about 40 minutes earlier. His girlfriend told police that Fritz hit her in the face and put a rear choke-hold on her.

Police responded to her distress call at 12:26 a.m. in the 600 block of So. Sycamore.

A police spokesman said the woman had visible injuries. The investigation revealed that Fritz hit her in the face several times and then choked her, causing her to struggle to breathe.

Fritz was long gone when police arrived. As police searched, they checked his parent’s home in the 2600 block of Anna and found that their 2010 Nissan Titan was missing along with a spare set of keys.

At 1:11 a.m. officers were dispatched to Union Pacific tracks near Oak and Front, where they found Fritz trapped in the Titan. He was rescued and taken to Great Plains Regional Medical Center.

Police said Fritz drove north down Oak, through the T intersection at Front, jumped the curb, went through a chain link fence and hit the tracks.

Alcohol is suspected to be a factor. Blood samples were taken but the lab has not reported the results yet, a police spokesman said Friday.

Fritz is charged with third-degree domestic assault, strangulation, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and driving under the influence.

Parole violation too

Fritz was on parole at the time for second-degree arson that occurred Dec. 12, 2008 at the home of Jose and Sheila Marquez at 2220 Anna.

Not only was Fritz convicted of setting the Marquezes house on fire, police said he burglarized it first.

The home and all the belongings inside were reduced to charred rubble. The damage amounted to an estimated $350,000.

Firefighters fought the 4 a.m. blaze for nearly three hours. The Marquezes and their children were out of town at the time.

About two and a half hours later, before the flames were even out, a North Platte police patrolman saw Fritz walking near McDonald's. The police had been on the lookout for Fritz since he ran away from the Boys and Girls Home Dec. 10.

The officer picked up Fritz and noticed that he reeked of smoke. A quick examination revealed that Fritz had a cigarette lighter on him as well as some paperwork that had the Marquez name and address on them. The officer became suspicious and investigated further.

The investigation later revealed that Fritz was even wearing clothes taken from the Marquez’s house.

Fritz was immediately charged with the burglary and theft and jailed. He spent 217 days in the county jail as his case went through the courts. In July 2009, he was sentenced to 2-4 years in the state penitentiary for arson.

He was still on parole when he rammed his parent's pickup squarely into the railroad tracks.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 2/22/2013
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