Raymond Lapenski Jr. was picking up his 1990 Honda Accord from a repair shop in east Orange County on Tuesday morning when he saw a man approaching who he thought was a worker coming to assist him.
“I thought, ‘How nice, someone’s coming to help me put my walker in the trunk,’” said Lapenski, 71. “I soon realized that’s not what was happening.”
The man slammed the trunk door, striking Lapenski, then hopped in the driver’s seat of the running car. But, instead of driving away, he stalled the car multiple times — apparently because he didn’t know how to drive a manual transmission, Lapenski said.
Jaylen Alexander, 25, was later arrested for battering Lapenski, attempting to steal his car and then stealing another car about 15 minutes later, according to an Orange County Sheriff’s Office arrest report.
“I was numb,” Lapenski said. “It took a while for me to realize that my car was being stolen right in front of me.”
Lapenski told deputies he left his car running with the keys in the ignition while he put his walker in the trunk at about 11:40 a.m. at Auto-Tender on Dean Road. After Alexander tried and failed to steal the car, he ran away, heading south, the report said.
“He just kept stalling and stalling and stalling,” Lapenski said. “Sooner or later he realized he had to get out because he couldn’t drive stick.”
At around 11:54 a.m., deputies received another report of a stolen car from MetroHealth Inc. on East Colonial Drive, just south of where Lapenski encountered Alexander, the report said.
At MetroHealth, Holly Schaefer told deputies she was with her mother for an appointment and turned on the car to cool it off. She went back inside to get her mother, who uses a wheelchair, and when they came back out they saw Alexander jump into the car and drive away, according to the report.
Orange County sheriff’s deputies followed Alexander until he crashed. He was arrested on the charges of carjacking, battery on a person 65 years of age or older, third degree grand theft of a motor vehicle and fleeing at high speeds.
He was booked into the Orange County jail Tuesday afternoon. He remained there Wednesday.
Lapenski wasn’t injured, but said his ego was hurt. He said he’s had his car for 29 years, it still runs great and he would have been devastated if Alexander had crashed it.
“He shouldn’t get away with this,” Lapenski said. “He was taking advantage of an old man.”
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