Kidnapper sets fire to his truck with a toddler inside after fleeing police

BELTON, SC – A man was apprehended on Wednesday following a series of alarming events that included the kidnapping of his own child, an assault on the child’s mother, and a high-speed chase that concluded with a blazing crash across the Georgia border, as per information from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office. The three-year-old boy, who was rescued from the burning vehicle, is currently in a critical condition.

The authorities were alerted to a residence on Harris Avenue in Belton after Joshua Dornellas, 31, allegedly attacked the mother of his child. He then proceeded to abduct the young boy and fled the scene, according to the deputies.

In an unmarked vehicle, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office tracked Dornellas, who had the child in the front seat and reportedly threatened his life. The pursuit was carried out without activating sirens to avoid jeopardizing the child or other drivers, a representative from the sheriff’s office explained.

Dornellas allegedly crossed into Georgia on I-85 around 1 p.m., prompting a chase by the Georgia State Patrol troopers. According to the troopers, Dornellas deliberately set his truck on fire during the pursuit. He then jumped out of the vehicle, which was moving at 55 mph, leaving the child inside. The truck subsequently crashed into a slope and was engulfed in flames with the child still inside.

Officers from the Georgia Motor Carrier Compliance Division, Georgia troopers, and deputies from Anderson, Franklin, and Hart counties all rushed to douse the fire and rescue the child from the truck. The boy, who sustained severe burns, was airlifted to the Augusta Burn Center. Dornellas, who was apprehended by the Georgia State Patrol, was transported to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center for treatment of his injuries.

Dornellas has a history of violence, as per the deputies. They reported that on April 21, he left five children, all under the age of 11, unsupervised at home, with a toddler found alone outside. He was charged with domestic violence on April 28, and the mother of his children obtained a protective order against him.

The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office expressed their sympathy for the child’s mother in a statement, requesting the community’s continued prayers for the three-year-old boy as he battles for his life in the trauma center. A GoFundMe page has been established to assist with the boy’s medical expenses.