About 15 minutes after being discharged from Beaufort Memorial Hospital, a male patient drove out of the hospital in a stolen ambulance on Monday night, according to police.
Beaufort Police Department officials say they have secured a warrant for grand larceny for a New York City man who police say stole the emergency vehicle and took officers on a wild chase on I-95, according to Police Capt. George Erdel.
The 39-year-old is being held at the Jasper County Detention Center on a charge of failure to stop for blue lights, a misdemeanor, according to jail logs., but has not yet been charged with grand larceny. The Island Packet does not name those charged with misdemeanors unless they are in a position of authority or public trust.
The ambulance arrived at Beaufort Memorial Hospital Emergency Room shortly after 10 p.m., where its driver was transferring a patient. He left the keys in the ignition and doors unlocked, according to a Beaufort police report.
He returned to find the ambulance missing.
Security video showed a man walking toward the ambulance around 10:20 p.m. and driving away with it a few minutes later, according to the report. A physician’s assistant confirmed to a Beaufort police officer that the man was a patient, discharged from the hospital nearly 15 minutes before.
It was a private sector ambulance, not a county-owned EMS vehicle. There was no patient inside.
Because the vehicle belonged to the Personal Care Service out of Charleston, the company informed Beaufort County and Jasper County dispatches that the vehicle could be tracked on GPS, the report said.
Using that, a Jasper County Sheriff deputy was waiting on I-95 for the man. When the driver wouldn’t stop, a Hardeeville detective deployed spike strips that ripped the ambulance’s tires, “causing the driver of the vehicle to swerve and lose control,” according to a Jasper County Sheriff’s Office report.
Once the man is released from detention in Jasper County, Beaufort police say they plan to charge him with grand larceny.
If convicted of grand larceny, the man faces up to 10 years in prison because the item is worth more than $10,000, according to South Carolina law.