Stolen Ambulance Found 45 Miles Away By Its Off-Duty Driver
An ambulance stolen in Reading, Pennsylvania was located later in a different county 45 miles from where it was stolen.
Reading Police Department says Reading Fire Department's ambulance Number 4 was taken while first responders were on a call at a senior center.
34-year-old Raymond Gonzalez stole the ambulance around 11:30am. When paramedics brought the patient outside to load them into the ambulance, they realized it was no longer where they had parked it.
Luckily for the patient, a second ambulance was able to arrive on the scene quickly to transport them to the hospital.
"We're very fortunate that the patient's condition wasn't life threatening," said Reading Fire Chief William Stoudt. "Obviously it had an impact on transport to the hospital but had the patient's condition been more serious, this could've ended up as a fatality."
An off-duty paramedic who is one of the operators of Ambulance No. 4 was riding his motorcycle through Lancaster County when he spotted the missing rig. Officials say he called it in and continued to ride, following the ambulance until Pennsylvania State Police were able to arrive on the scene.
"It is kind of ironic but it just speaks volumes to the type of employees we have here," said Stoudt. "Something seems out of line, they're going to take action."
Shortly after the paramedic called police, the ambulance crashed into the back of a semi in Leacock Township.
The ambulance, which costs around $180,000 was damaged in the crash. It was towed back to Reading where it is being assessed by city maintenance workers. The rig is part of an eight ambulance fleet made of four active and four reserve ambulances.
"Today's events move us due to the vulnerability to which even our first responders are exposed daily," said Reading Mayor Eddie Moran. "I want to thank everyone that handled this situation without escalating the risk, protecting the lives of all parties and collaborating all without personal injuries. We can always recover from material losses."
Gonzalez was taken into custody at the sight of the crash.
"These things are work horses," Chief Stout added about the ambulances. "They're basically mobile operating rooms or emergency rooms on the streets. We'll take an internal look at this to see if there's measures we can take to prevent something like this."
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