Police and locals in upstate New York are baffled after a woman crashed a stolen ambulance into Irondequoit Bay, near Rochester. The ambulance, stolen some 137 miles away in Utica, led a number of police chases before ending up at the bottom of a lake.
On Sunday morning, Utica Police Department received a call from Kunkel Ambulance that one of its ambulances have been stolen, reports 13 WHAM. The Ford Transit-based ambulance was getting cleaned out when, as crews weren’t present, it was taken from Kunkel’s garage.
By the time police arrived on scene and pulled the van’s GPS location, it was already 25 miles away and heading west down the New York State Thruway. New York State Police gave chase, noting that the woman behind the wheel didn’t appear to be trying to get anywhere quickly, from 13 WHAM:
“We pursued the vehicle at a reasonable speed, [the] person wasn’t in any hurry,” said Mark O’Donnell, NYSP Troop E Spokesman based in Western New York.
The initial chase lasted about 50 miles and police say that excessive speed wasn’t involved. Police called off chases numerous times in the name of public safety, but continued to follow the van using unmarked vehicles. Initial reports from NBC affiliates say that police used spike strips but failed to stop the ambulance.
Before long, the woman made it all the way to the Rochester area, over a hundred miles from where the van was originally stolen.
She then took the van onto Seneca Road with enough speed to blast through the gate of the Newport Yacht Club and right into Irondequoit Bay. A camera at the yacht club caught the moment the van went in.
A board member of the club, Bob Henry, was working the docks when it happened and described the sight of the van crashing into the lake as surreal. The driver even had the ambulance’s sirens going.
The woman escaped the sinking ambulance by opening the driver window and jumping out. However, she reportedly needed rescue by a nearby boat.
She was later taken into custody and police are working to figure out a motive for the theft. The ambulance ended its eventful day getting by winched from the bottom of lake by a tow truck.