More details of Monday’s fatal accident involving a Rampart EMS ambulance and logging truck have been released. The crash killed OSF St. Francis registered nurse Lisa Hanson and patient Carrie Roberts, who was being transported to Marquette General Hospital.
Lanna Scannell, community relations director at OSF St. Francis Hospital, characterized the mood at the hospital as “shock and sorrow. This is a terrible time for everybody,” she said. “(And) to lose a patient…” she began. “It’s a sad day here,” and that’s an understatement, she said. Mary Nelson, an emergency room nurse, knew Hanson for 10 years. “Lisa is not only a great loss to our ER but also to our community,” she said. “We all feel that way.”
The question of what caused the crash is now in the hands of an accident reconstructionist, according to Trooper Robert O’Connor of the state police post at Negaunee. The ambulance, driven by Natalia Jauquet, 25, Gladstone, crashed into the rear end of a Kanerva Forest Products logging truck driven by Ronald Constantino, 67, Brampton, on U.S. 41 near the intersection of M-94 in Skandia Township shortly after 3 p.m. The truck was pulled off onto the side of the highway. “He did everything he was supposed to do,” said Trooper Donna Beauchaine. “He yielded to an emergency vehicle and gave them the right of way.”
Hanson, 32, Cornell, and Roberts, 38, Escanaba, were killed instantly. Jauquet was seriously injured and brought to MGH while crew member Ryan Peterson, 29, Bark River, was treated at MGH and released. Constantino was uninjured. Jauquet was the sole person in the ambulance’s front seat; Hanson, Roberts and Peterson were in the rear of the ambulance.
O’Connor was the first to respond to the accident. He characterized the crash as an “offset rear-end” collision. The ambulance struck the logging truck’s trailer slightly off to the left of center, possibly headlight to taillight, he explained. The collision likely lifted the trailer in a wedge action. The ambulance continued forward while the trailer was thrown to the right.
The impact likely occurred at 55-80 mph, O’Connor estimated. He based his estimate on the ambulance was operating with its emergency lights on, according to the truck driver and a witness report. Ambulances don’t run with flashing lights under 55 mph, he added. He also added he hadn’t clocked an ambulance over 80 mph in his career. A state police reconstruction is expected to give the official speed determination by the end of the week.
There was also no evidence of braking or steering around on the hard-packed snow surface. “Even with anti-lock brakes, there would be some scrubbing,” he said. The logging truck was as far to the right of the road as possible, O’Connor said. Both lanes were fully open without oncoming traffic, he added.
Weather did not seem to play a factor as both the truck driver and pedestrian witness noted a lack of blowing snow.
The investigation will proceed with the results of the reconstruction and an interview with Jauquet after she is released from the MGH intensive care unit. “We expect the case to go to the prosecutor,” O’Connor added, noting the Marquette County prosecutor will determine if there are any charges filed.
Venetia Bryers, CEO of Rampart Emergency Medical Services, explained it was normal for the driver to be alone in the front of the ambulance. She also said there were lap belts available for all crew in the back of the vehicle.
“Our hearts go out to Lisa’s family and to the family of the patient,” Bryers said.
MGH CEO Bill Nemacheck said they are doing everything they can to care for Jauquet, Peterson and their families. MGH owns Rampart Emergency Medical Services. “Several families are feeling the shock of this tragedy, including the health care families at St. Francis and Marquette General,” he said. “It’s a cruel and ironic turn of events when people who protect and save lives suddenly become victims of a terrible situation.”