Man thinks vandal sabotaged family's truck while camping

When was the last time you thought about the lug nuts holding the tires onto your car? A Portland man hopes you'll think more about them the next time you go camping.

He believes someone maliciously took six of the eight lug nuts off of the left, front tire of his truck with a camper and almost caused his wife and two kids to crash while going 70 mph on the highway.

"The whole front of the truck dropped down. She probably went 500 feet from where the tire fell off and almost hit the guardrail," Israel Elliott said.

He thinks it happened while his family camped at Detroit Lake Campground over the weekend, since the tire came off on their way home.

"It's not an easy thing to do," Elliott said while trying to loosen a lug nut. He says he's been a mechanic for 20 years and checked the truck before his family left.

"Someone had to really put some effort and have some real malice in their heart to do that to somebody with children," he said.

His children are 9 and 10 years old. He considers what happened equivalent to attempted murder.

"I'm glad nothing happened to them. If something would have happened to them, I would have spent the rest of my life looking for the person who did this," he said.

Instead, he paid for the $175 tow and will work to fix the damage to the wheel, brakes, rotor and spindle. He's also hoping to warn other families.

"Eight lug nuts don't come off by themselves," he said. "Glance at your tires. Make sure someone hasn't done this to you."

Oregon State Police helped the family on the highway Sunday but didn't investigate what may have caused the lug nuts to come off. OSP spokesman Gregg Hastings said he is not aware of any other similar incidents.

The Detroit Lake Campground took a log of the incident.