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New York City EMT Is Killed in Ambulance Theft in the Bronx

NY Times - March 17, 2017

by CHRISTOPHER MELEMARCH

One member of New York City’s emergency medical services was killed and another injured when a man got into the driver’s seat of their ambulance and ran over one of them in the Bronx on Thursday night, the authorities said.

The man, 25, was taken into custody but the police did not identify him publicly.

The police said the episode happened around 7:10 p.m. at the intersection of White Plains Road and Watson Avenue near the Soundview section of the Bronx.

Two female emergency medical workers were responding to a call and were alerted by a passer-by that someone was riding on the back bumper of the ambulance, officials said.

The emergency medical worker in the passenger seat got out first, and then the driver, who went behind the ambulance to confront the man. He started to walk away, but then turned back and went around her to the cab of the ambulance and got into the driver’s seat, officials said.

As the emergency medical workers struggled with the man on both sides, he put the vehicle in reverse, striking the passenger and running over the driver, who was killed. The police had previously reported that the passenger was critically injured, however, officials later clarified that she had sustained minor injuries. The ambulance also struck parked cars.

An on-duty officer from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority got out of his vehicle and, with the help of four or five civilians, took the man into custody, officials said. Videos posted to Twitter by a passer-by showed a chaotic scene as the emergency medical worker who was injured cried loudly and screamed, “My partner!”

At a news conference at Jacobi Medical Center on Thursday night, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the emergency medical worker who was killed was 44 years old and the mother of five. The authorities did not publicly identify her because some members of her family had not yet been notified. The mayor said she was a 14-year veteran of the Fire Department.

The mayor said he spoke to some family members, adding that they were going through “unspeakable grief.”

On Thursday night, dozens of ambulances, some with their lights flashing, lined the roads leading to the trauma center at the medical center. Two lines of emergency medical workers extended from the entrance.

Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said the emergency medical worker was the eighth member and third woman of the emergency medical services to die in the line of duty.

Relatives of the man who was taken into custody said he had been depressed since his mother died when he was an adolescent. The man was known to the police because they have had numerous encounters with him as an emotionally disturbed person, they said.

Al Baker, Sandra E. Garcia, Joseph Goldstein, J. David Goodman, Benjamin Mueller, Emily Palmer and Ashley Southall contributed reporting.