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Elizabeth man gets 13 years for causing crash that killed two inside ambulance - New Jersey

Thursday, October 30, 2014  By Bill Wichert

Moments after receiving a 13-year prison sentence for causing a 2012 crash that killed two people, James Sterling today turned to the victims’ families and said he never meant to cause the deaths of their loved ones.

“I just want to apologize,” Sterling told the family members from across a Newark courtroom. “I’m truly sorry. I hope y’all can find it in your heart to forgive me.”

Sterling, 30, also known as James Megget, of Elizabeth, was sentenced to 13 years for causing the multi-vehicle crash in Newark on Nov. 19, 2012 that ultimately claimed the lives of Keith Chipepo and Martha Conley, who were riding in an ambulance at the time of the collision.

Under a plea deal, Sterling pleaded guilty on July 17 to two counts of aggravated manslaughter. He was originally indicted on charges of aggravated manslaughter, eluding, aggravated assault, vehicular homicide, driving with a suspended license and causing death while driving with a suspended license.

Sterling must serve about 11 years before he becomes eligible for parole, and his sentence will run concurrent to a prison term he’s serving for a parole violation.

The case represents Sterling’s seventh felony conviction. His prior convictions were for aggravated assault, robbery, conspiracy, possession of narcotics and weapons offenses, prosecutors said.

The family members of Chipepo and Conley declined to speak during the sentencing hearing.

“Both families are very upset as to the actions that have taken place,” Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Jason Hollingsworth told Superior Court Judge Ronald Wigler.

In a statement read by Hollingsworth during today’s hearing, the Chipepo family described Keith Chipepo as “a kind, joyful father, brother, son, and friend.”

“He loved life, and he worked hard every day for his family and for everything he had,” the statement read. “We will always miss his smile.”

Referring to Sterling, the statement continued: “You played a role in taking him from us but your family will have a chance to see you again while you are incarcerated.

“For that, we hope you will never forget the part you took in taking the life of someone so great in our hearts,” the statement added. “You are fortunate to have the presence of your family, but we are left with just a memory of our beloved son & brother, taken from us way too soon.”

The crash occurred at South Orange Avenue and South 9th Street in Newark when Sterling was driving a Chrysler Pacifica SUV, ran a red light and struck the ambulance, setting off a collision that also included a food truck and a county transportation bus, prosecutors said.

As part of his 13-count indictment, Sterling had been charged with eluding police at the time of the crash.

Chipepo, 30, of Montclair, who was employed by the private ambulance company, was killed in the crash, authorities said. Conley, 58, of Newark, who was a patient in the ambulance, died from her injuries on Nov. 28, 2012, authorities said.

In handing down today’s sentence, Wigler said he hopes Sterling will reflect on his crime and “the devastation that you caused not one, but two families.”

“Only time will tell if you’re gonna change your ways,” the judge said.

Bill Wichert may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @BillWichertNJ. Find on Facebook. 



Woman admits to driving drunk in wrong-way crash with ambulance - New York

Thursday, October 30, 2014  By Frank Donnelly | 

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – An Oakwood woman, who drove the wrong way on a South Shore street five months ago and crashed into an ambulance, has admitted to drunken driving.

Rebecca Cassiliano, 58, was traveling the wrong way in a 2002 Hyundai Elantra on Father Capodanno Boulevard, near Sand Lane, when she struck the ambulance, just before 10 p.m. on May 27, said police.

No one was injured, police said.

However, Ms. Cassiliano was unsteady on her feet and her speech was slurred when she emerged from her car, cops said. Her eyes were watery, and her breath smelled of alcohol, police said.

A test showed Ms. Cassiliano's blood alcohol content was .192 percent – more than double the .08 percent threshold for driving while intoxicated in New York, said a criminal complaint.

Ms. Cassiliano pleaded guilty Tuesday in Stapleton Criminal Court to a misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated, according to information from District Attorney Daniel Donovan's office.

She was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay a $500 fine. Her driver's license was revoked for six months and she must install an ignition-interlock device for a year after her license is reinstated.

Ms. Cassiliano was also ordered to participate in a drunken-driving-prevention program and a victim-impact panel, said Mark J. Fonte, her lawyer. The panel puts individuals face-to-face with victims of drunken drivers and their families, who relate their stories of loss and pain.

"I'm glad I was able to achieve closure on this matter," Fonte said. 



Man crashes stolen ambulance into tree - Houston

Wednesday, October 29, 2014  HOUSTON — A man stole an ambulance from a Houston hospital before crashing it into a tree shortly after.

The driver told police he needed a ride and the ambulance was the first thing he saw, ABC 13 reports.

The ambulance was parked in the hospital’s loading dock with the keys still in the vehicle.

Police found the crashed ambulance against a tree with the suspect still in the area. He was immediately taken into custody.  



Fire Damages Rock Island Ambulance Building - Iowa

Monday, October 27, 2014  By Brian Boesen

Fire crews say they were forced to wage a defensive battle in a late night fire at the Trinity Ambulance building in Rock Island.

Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Yerkey, crews were called to the building at 4468 48th Ave. Ct after 10:30 Saturday night, after witnesses reported seeing flames and heavy smoke.  According to Yerkey, the east end of the building was fully engulfed when crews arrived.

Yerkey says the building is used for ambulances and medical equipment, including oxygen tanks.  He says the nature of the fire and the potential of those tanks exploding kept firefighters from going inside.

“Based on the amount of fire, the type of the construction of the building, it's a type II building with a lot of metal which can deform and cause collapse, and because of the contents, they decided to just go defensive and spray water from the outside,” said Jeff Yerkey, Assistant Fire Chief.

No one was inside the building at the time of the fire.  The fire department will investigate as soon as it's safe to enter the building. 



Ambulance patient dies in accident in Missouri

Monday, October 27, 2014  MARSHALL, Missouri (AP) — A patient in an ambulance has been killed in a nearly head-on collision with a dump truck in thick fog in Saline County.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol identified the victim as 77-year-old Gary L. Page of Slater. He died Saturday morning when the ambulance collided with a dump truck that was stopped in traffic on Missouri 240 while the driver waiting to turn onto Missouri 41.

The ambulance’s driver sustained moderate injuries and a 70-year-old passenger was seriously injured. Both were transported to University Hospital in Columbia. 



Blountville shoppers brawl with EMS, neglect child - Tennessee

Thursday, October 23, 2014  An intoxicated Mount Carmel couple face multiple charges after reportedly taking their young child to a Blountville store, where the father soon passed out with a bag of meth and his wife punched a responding paramedic.

The incident occurred shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday at the Dollar General on Highway 11-W, at the intersection with Highway 394. Officers responded to a report of an erratic woman inside the store, finding Rhonda Middleton, 35, of 546 Beech St., "acting incoherent, unbalanced on her feet."

A Sullivan County Sheriff's Office police report notes that Middleton "was dosing in and out" while speaking with officers and couldn't pay attention to commands. EMS were called to check on her health, as she allegedly claimed to be diabetic and her blood sugar was dropping, but medical personal found her level's were appropriate. Middleton also refused to be transported to an area hospital for further examination.

Meanwhile, her husband was located passed out in a car in the parking lot. Police report that it took "several attempts" to awaken Rodney Middleton, 35, with him refusing any treatment from EMS. He allegedly admitted to driving his wife and daughter, age 5, to the store, then performed poorly on field sobriety tests.

An SCSO incident report states that as police were charging Rodney Middleton for DUI, EMS escorted his daughter out of sight of her father's arrest. This reportedly enraged Rhonda Middleton, who ran away from police and towards the paramedic, punching her in the face.

A deputy pulled Rhonda Middleton off the EMS worker and detained her on the ground of the parking lot. Middleton was then charged with simple assault and public intoxication. She was also charged with child neglect, reads an incident report, as her actions at the scene adversely affected her daughter's welfare.

A Department of Children's Services case worker responded to take temporary custody of the girl. Following transport to jail, a clear baggy of meth was located in the pocket of Rodney Middleton, prompting a charge of drug possession.

An investigation is continuing against the couple with additional charges pending.



Flight medic succumbs to Texas chopper crash injuries

Thursday, October 23, 2014  WICHITA FALLS, Texas — Flight medic Erasmus “Johan” van der Colff IV died Wednesday night from injuries sustained in a medical helicopter crash in Wichita Falls.

Colff’s death marks the third fatality resulting from the October 4th crash, TexomasHomePage reports.

Flight nurse Leslie Stewart, 28, died from injuries on October 8th. The patient on board, Buddy Rhodes, 28, died in the crash. The pilot, Zechariah Smith, survived the crash with serious injuries.

A report filed with the NTSB indicates during an attempt to land, the pilot lost control of the helicopter and it began to spin. It spun five times before crashing and bursting into flames.    



2 medics sent blindly into violent Detroit crowd, attacked

Thursday, October 23, 2014  DETROIT — Two medics were assaulted after Detroit dispatchers failed to identify the call as a possible violent situation.  

The medics were responding to a report of a pedestrian hit by a vehicle, when three members of a crowd attacked them, WXYZ reports.

"There was information that there was fighting on the scene and that information never made it to the medics," said Joseph Barney who represents Detroit EMS workers under the Police Officers Association of Michigan.

For safety reasons, EMS workers will wait for police support if violence is reported on the scene.

"We're there to help people," said Barney. "We're unarmed."

It remains unclear why dispatch did not inform the medics of fighting, and efforts are being made to improve communication. 



EMTs injured in ambulance crash with bus - Louisville

Thursday, October 23, 2014  By Erica Coghill

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —An ambulance and Jefferson County Public Schools bus collided Wednesday afternoon, sending two EMTs to the hospital.

The ambulance was responding to a crash and it collided with the bus at the  intersection of Dr. WJ Hodge and Main streets. 

The ambulance swerved to avoid the bus, but clipped it and flipped on its side.     

The two EMTs were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.    

No children were on the school bus.    

The bus driver was not hurt.



EMS crew members injured in crash with school bus - Louisville

Thursday, October 23, 2014  By Charles Gazaway

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Members of a Louisville Metro EMS crews were injured after an accident between their vehicle and a Jefferson County school bus at an intersection in the Portland neighborhood.

The crash happened around 3 p.m. Wednesday at Dr. W.J. Hodge and Main Streets.

The school bus, #0734, was not transporting students and the ambulance was on a run and did not have a patient on board.

According to Metro EMS Chief of Staff Kristin Miller, the ambulance was driving west bound on Main Street on a run for a motor vehicle accident with its lights and siren on. As the ambulance was going through the intersection the light changed. The bus was heading northbound.

Miller said the ambulance and bus clipped each other, the ambulance swerved and that is what caused the ambulance to flip on its side.

Witnesses ran over to help.

“The ambulance slides over and drags off hits that power pole and then it starts smoking up,” said witness Jalen Posey. “That bus hit that power pole right there that's when my mom came over and some other people tried to get the lady out of the ambulance because one of them was pregnant and I called the cops.”

Miller said the EMS crew was taken to the hospital to be checked out. The extent of injuries to the EMS crew is not known. The bus driver was not injured and was speaking with police following the crash. 



2 hurt after police chase of LAFD stolen ambulance

Wednesday, October 22, 2014  By Julie Cart
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — A man being treated by paramedics stole a Los Angeles Fire Department ambulance and led police on a chase that ended in a traffic collision, sending two women to the hospital Sunday night.

Paramedics responded to a medical call in the 200 block of North San Pedro street in downtown L.A. about 6:30 p.m., and then the man drove off in the ambulance, according to the LAFD’s Katherine Main.

The paramedics were not in the ambulance at the time, Main said.

A fire engine also responding to the original call reported the stolen ambulance, Los Angeles police said.

Officers then began a pursuit that ended when the ambulance crashed into a vehicle at the intersection of Beverly Boulevard and  Union Avenue about 7:15,  according to Sgt. Gia Rueda of the LAPD.

Two women in the car were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, Rueda said.

The suspect, whose name was not released, was taken into custody at the Rampart Station. 



No one injured in crash with ambulance - Maryland

Wednesday, October 22, 2014  EASTON — No one was injured in an accident involving an ambulance around 8 p.m. Sunday night at Dover and West streets in Easton, police said.

Police said Harvey Greenwald, 74, of New York, had stopped his minivan at the intersection of Dover Street and then headed across West Street.

A Talbot County Emergency Medical Services ambulance, which had just completed transportation and wasn’t carrying a patient, T-boned Greenwald’s vehicle as he drove across the street, police said.

Both vehicles had to be towed from the scene. Police said the van had functional damage and the ambulance had front end damage.

Although no injuries were apparent, the two emergency medical services workers, Marcus Flowers Jr., 57, of Fishing Creek, and Wylie Gray Jr., 55, of Cambridge, went to the emergency room afterward and were cleared.

Greenwald is charged with failing to yield the right of way.




One dead after ambulance, truck crash into car on the Northeast Side - San Antonio

Wednesday, October 22, 2014  By Mark Wilson

SAN ANTONIO — An ambulance was among three vehicles involved in a crash Thursday night that left one man dead on the Northeast Side.

According to the San Antonio Police Department, a Dodge Ram and Acadian ambulance had been headed west in the 6300 block of Rittiman Road just after 7 p.m. when a Toyota Corolla attempted a left turn across westbound lanes.

Police said the driver failed to yield the right of way to the vehicles and pulled out into their path.

Both the truck and ambulance crashed into the car in which Ross Goveia, 96, was a passenger.

Goveia was taken to the San Antonio Military Medical Center in critical condition following the accident.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later. 



3 hospitalized after ambulance crash in Newton - Massachusetts

Wednesday, October 22, 2014  NEWTON, Mass. (WHDH) -An ambulance carrying one patient and two paramedics was driving through Newton Tuesday afternoon when it crashed into a utility pole.

Police say all three people on board were taken to Beth Israel as a precaution for minor, non-life-threatening injuries.

The crash happened just after 3 p.m. on Route 9 eastbound near Dudley Road. No other vehicles were involved.

One lane of the road was closed while crews worked to repair the damage. 




Wednesday, October 22, 2014  A man undergoing treatment for hallucination inside a Los Angeles Fire Department ambulance in downtown Los Angeles stole the emergency vehicle Sunday night, forcing two firefighter paramedics to jump out and an engine company to pursue.  

The firefighters were treating a patient at about 7 p.m. at Alameda and 3rd streets, when he pulled out his IV and ran out of the ambulance. The man reappeared a short time later, jumped into the ambulance and began driving away. The two firefighter paramedics quickly jumped out.

As per protocol, the ambulance was left running. 

The engine company followed the ambulance until LAPD officers arrived and took over the pursuit. About five minutes later, the ambulance crashed into a minivan at Union Place and Beverly Boulevard in the Rampart area of Los Angeles. 

The two people in the minivan suffered minor injuries. No firefighters were injured or involved in the crash, fire officials said.

"Initially it didn't make sense at all to anybody that the fire department was chasing one of its own vehicles," LAPD Lt. Theresa Coyle said. "As it became clear, gratefully no one was seriously injured."

The male suspect was arrested and is expected to face felony evading and carjacking charges.  



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