William Person, 43, of Temple Hills, Md., has been charged with auto theft and malicious destruction of property in connection with the incident, according to Prince George’s County police. He also faces several traffic charges in Charles County, police said.
Person’s family could not be reached for comment, and online court records did not yet indicate an attorney for him in the case.
Updated 5:30 p.m.
A man was apprehended Friday after he stole an ambulance from outside Prince George’s County Hospital Center in Cheverly, Md., drove it with blown out tires and led authorities on a roughly one-hour pursuit before he was stopped.
The incident started around 6 a.m. when rescuers who were inside the hospital after dropping off patient apparently left the keys inside the vehicle. The man, who had been a patient at the hospital, got in and stole it, police said.
Leaving keys inside an ambulance is against the Prince George’s County Fire Department’s policy, which requires the vehicle to be locked when officials aren’t inside, officials said.
The suspect — who has not yet been charged because he is being treated at a hospital — had been brought in either late Thursday night or early Friday morning for an injury, police said. He was also “acting erratic” according to Prince George’s County Police Chief Henry P. Stawinski III. He did not give further details on the man’s injuries and behavior.
Stawinski said the man was treated and discharged and “had access to the ambulance.” He said Prince George’s County Fire and Police departments used GPS locators to find it and began pursuing it.
Officials said the man was not driving the ambulance at a high speed. He headed from the Beltway into Charles County at times, and sheriff’s deputies there also helped in the pursuit, as did U.S. Park Police and Maryland State Police.
At one point, authorities used “stop sticks,” a device that deflates a vehicle’s tires. But that did not stop the ambulance.
A FOX 5 TV crew that was following the pursuit live showed the ambulance continuing to drive on the rims of the blown out tires. Officials said the ambulance was swerving during the pursuit and they eventually created a “pocket” with law enforcement vehicles pursuing it to prevent it from speeding or crashing into other vehicles. The suspect drove the ambulance for roughly 20 miles as he was pursued.
— FOX 5 DC (@fox5dc) May 19, 2017
With blown tires, the ambulance caused “more sparks, fire and chaos,” Stawinski said. At one point, he said authorities were trying to get the man’s attention but he had a “1,000 yard stare” and was “non communicative,” Stawinski said.
Eventually, not long after 7 a.m., authorities were able to block off the ambulance and keep it from getting onto MD 5, a busy road. The ambulance struck a Maryland State Police cruiser, bringing it to a final stop. The man was apprehended along Allentown Road, police said. He was taken to a hospital after suffering minor injuries, officials said.
“He will be fine,” Stawinski said.
Police officials said he will be charged after he is treated and released from the hospital.
The ambulance was being run by career rescuers, and came from the Landover Hills fire station, officials said.
Authorities praised the cooperation between various jurisdictions. Stawinski said the situation was handled “remarkably well” by all the agencies involved given that it unfolded in the morning rush hour on busy roads used by commuters and no one was seriously hurt.
Updated at 7:40 a.m.
After a roughly 25 mile pursuit, authorities stopped and captured the driver of an ambulance that was stolen from Prince George’s County Hospital after rescuers left the keys inside of it — a move that officials said is against the department’s policy.
It is not clear whether the person had been arrested but authorities could be seen putting someone on a stretcher
Few details were immediately available. Authorities have not released any details on who stole the ambulance.
Suspect in stolen ambulance being transported to area hospital ambulance stopped in 6300 block of Allentown Road pic.twitter.com/NKXeh6a164
— Suzanne Kennedy (@ABC7Suzanne) May 19, 2017
A Fox 5 TV crew followed the pursuit and at one point showed the stolen ambulance driving on just the rims and it appeared the tires had been blown out. The pursuit ended along Allentown Road after having gone into parts of Charles County.
End of ambulance pursuit @WTOP https://t.co/bIlK5MeyjU
— Dennis J. Foley (@DJFoleyWTOP) May 19, 2017
Original post at 7:10 a.m.
Authorities from four law enforcement agencies said they are pursuing an ambulance Friday morning that was stolen from outside Prince George’s County Hospital.
The incident happened around 6 a.m. when the ambulance was parked at the bay outside the hospital, according to Assistant Fire Chief Alan Doubleday of the Prince George’s County Fire Department. He said rescuers were inside the hospital after a call and no one was in the vehicle.
It is not clear who stole it. He said there is a GPS tracking device on it and law enforcement was tracking it.
Around 7 a.m., the ambulance was being pursued down the Capital Beltway and onto MD 210 in Charles County, he said.
According to live footage from a Fox 5 TV crew that was following the pursuit live, it appeared the ambulance was at one point driving on just rims of its tires.
Law enforcement from Prince George’s Police, along with the Charles County Sheriff’s Office and a helicopter from Maryland State Police, are involved in the pursuit.
Doubleday said it is the department’s policy to take the keys out of ambulances and lock them when firefighters and paramedics are not in them. He said the initial investigation shows that this ambulance was left with the keys in it. He said the incident will be under investigation.