READING, Pa. – A Pennsylvania man is accused of stealing an ambulance while first responders were tending to a patient inside a high-rise apartment and then crashing it in the next county, authorities said.
Raymond Gonzalez, 34, of Reading, was arrested in Lancaster County, WFMZ reported. Details about his arrested, or what charges he may face, were not released.
Reading Fire Chief William L. Stoudt said the ambulance was stolen shortly before noon EDT on Monday, the Reading Eagle reported.
First responders were inside the Kennedy Senior Center and brought a patient to transport to an area hospital.
“They came out with the patient to find that their ambulance wasn’t there,” Stoudt told the newspaper.
Parademics called for another ambulance, which took the patient, who had non-life-threatening issues, to an area hospital, according to the Eagle.
“We’re very fortunate that the patient’s condition wasn’t life-threatening,” Stoudt told WFMZ. “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.”
At about 1 p.m., an off-duty member of the Reading Fire Department spotted the missing ambulance and followed it until state troopers picked up the vehicle’s trail, the Eagle reported.
Moments later, the ambulance was involved in an accident in Lancaster County near Intercourse, the newspaper reported. Details about the accident have not been released.
“Police were able to apprehend a suspect, and it is my understanding there were no injuries,” Stoudt told the Eagle. “As a result of the impact, the ambulance did sustain damage.”
The ambulance costs about $180,000, WFMZ reported. It was towed back to Reading, where city maintenance will assess the damage, the television station reported.
“Today’s events move us due to the vulnerability to which even our first responders are exposed daily,” Reading Mayor Eddie Moran said in a statement. “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.”
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