Police say they will seek charges of negligent homicide against the driver of the ambulance which struck a logging truck last month, killing a nurse and a patient. The final decision on whether to pursue charges, however, will be in the hands of the Marquette County prosecutor.
According to the accident report, Natalia Jauquet, 25, of Gladstone, was driving the Rampart ambulance when it crashed on March 5 in Skandia Township.
Although that information is on the report, to pursue criminal charges, police need evidence or witness statements saying Jauquet was the driver, said Trooper Robert O’Conner of the Negaunee State Police Post.
“There’s no first-hand information or solid evidence that Natalia was driving,” O’Conner said Tuesday. “There’s no witnesses saying she was behind the wheel.” Police have requested an interview with Jauquet, but her attorney said she will not be making any statements, O’Conner added.
Officials are hopeful an interview scheduled for today with Ryan Peterson, 29, of Bark River, will result in the information they need to determine who was driving the ambulance. Peterson is a paramedic who survived the crash along with Jauquet. The police report indicates he was in the back of the ambulance when the crash occurred.
“I’m hoping that Ryan Peterson has a clear recollection up to the collision and he’s able to tell us what happened,” O’Conner said. “So far we have no accounts from anyone in the ambulance.” State police also plan to interview today two witnesses who were in a vehicle traveling behind the ambulance when the accident happened, he said.
While transporting a patient from St. Francis Hospital in Escanaba on the afternoon of March 5, the ambulance collided into a semi that was pulled over on the side of U.S. 41. Killed in the accident were Lisa Hanson, 32, of Cornell, a registered nurse, and Carrie Roberts, 38, of Escanaba, a patient in serious condition being transported to Marquette General Hospital (MGH).
The ambulance driver, listed as Jauquet, also an emergency medical technician, and Peterson were injured in the accident and transported to Marquette General. Peterson was treated and released. Jauquet was admitted to the intensive care unit. No other information is being released on Jauquet, per her family’s request, according to hospital officials. The truck driver, Ron Constantino, 67, of Brampton, was not injured in the crash.
State police completed the accident reconstruction analysis last week concluding the ambulance driver was at fault, O’Conner said. He did not know when police would be submitting a report to the Marquette County prosecutor for consideration of the negligent homicide charges. Negligent homicide is a high court misdemeanor carrying a maximum punishment of two years imprisonment and a $2,000 fine. “It will go to the prosecutor. It’s just a matter of time,” O’Conner said.
If Peterson “gives us information that he was in the back with the two that were killed and she was driving,” the report could be submitted to the prosecutor “as early as Monday,” he said. “Without that information, we’re forced to wait on evidence from the ambulance.” Such evidence includes an analysis of blood and body fluids from the driver’s side, O’Conner said. DNA testing could take several months.
Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Gary Walker said Tuesday that he had not yet received anything from Michigan State Police in Negaunee. He did say he has been in contact with the post but did not know if police would be pursuing any criminal charges in connection with the accident.
Rampart Ambulance Service is owned by MGH. According to Mary Tippett, director of community relations at Marquette General, any ambulance accident must undergo a mandatory review by the county prosecutor.