A 19-year-old who stands accused of hijacking the semi-trailer truck of an acquaintance and crashing it into several vehicles along I-15 near Temecula, California, told Highway Patrol officers he "was being chased by zombies."

Officer Nathan Baer said Jerimiah Hartline of Tennessee appeared to be "in an altered state" when he stole the strawberry-hauling big-rig as it was parked at a weigh station in Rainbow, and proceeded to drive away, slamming into as many as four cars before flipping over and blocking all four lanes of northbound traffic.

Hartline wasn't quite done: Witnesses say he quickly exited the truck's cab and attempted to commandeer a van that had stopped to offer assistance.

The van's driver managed to drag Hartline out of the vehicle, and held him in place with the help of other motorists until the cops showed up.

Hartline initially refused to accept blame for what had transpired, pinning fault instead on the undead.

"He just said that he was being chased by zombies," Baer is quoted as saying.

Officers later caught up with the truck's original driver, who told them he had agreed to take Hartline along after finding him hiding inside the semi's berth.

They were several miles outside of Tennessee at the time, and the trucker said he didn't want to leave Hartline stranded.

All told seven people were injured in the mayhem. Hartline was booked into jail on suspicion of vehicle theft and hit-and-run.

[H/T: Geekologie, mug shot via Riverside County Sheriff's Dept]