Whether they're driving a police car, firetruck, or ambulance, many first responders leave the keys in the ignition—assuming no one would be dumb enough to steal their vehicle. Unfortunately, every so often, someone comes along who defies common sense...and steals it anyway.
Apparently this was the case last week in Palestine, Texas, when an 18-year-old male reportedly stole a Palestine Regional Medical Center ambulance and led Anderson County Sheriff’s deputies on a 100-mph chase down South Loop 256. Bouncing the ambulance off the governor, the man—who police say is named Armando Vinaja—pushes the Type-III ambulance to the limit. Eventually, Vinaja attempts to make a right turn at a high rate of speed when the ambulance loses control, drives over a sidewalk and stalls out. Police approach the suspect with guns drawn, and take him into custody. As police carry Vinaja back to the control car, you can hear him laughing and hollering.
According to reports, Vinaja had been transported to Palestine Regional Medical Center earlier in the day, then stole an ambulance from the ER bay later on. Exact details regarding how the ambulance was stolen is unclear, but there is a good chance it was left unsecured.
According to police, Armando Vinaja appeared to be under the influence of some intoxicant, as he exhibited signs of intoxication when he was taken into custody. Vinaja was charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and evading arrest.
This incident should serve as a great reminder to first responders to secure their vehicle. You have worked too hard to get where you are just to let some joyriding punk put others in danger with your vehicle.