A Providence Fire Department ambulance has been recovered undamaged after police say a man stole it from outside the Emergency Department at Rhode Island Hospital and drove it to Connecticut.
Providence Police Major David Lapatin said Johnny Kimbrough of Providence has been taken into custody by Connecticut State Police after they stopped him on Interstate 95 driving Providence Rescue 6.
A police report says Rhode Island Hospital security saw the suspect get into the ambulance and drive away after firefighters unloaded a patient into the triage area. The fire captain went back outside to find the vehicle missing.
Lapatin said the car was left running and unattended.
West Greenwich Police spotted the rescue a short time later and pursued it on 95 South, according to the police report. The driver crossed the state line into Connecticut, where Connecticut State Police stopped it and took Kimbrough into custody.
Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said while firefighters often leave rescues running while taking patients into the emergency room, he would now be clarifying that ambulances need to be secured.
“We will put a policy out that no rescue will be left unattended and running, period,” Pare said Monday morning.
He said the fire department would look into a permanent technological solution moving forward that would allow the ambulances to be locked while staying running, which allows the computers and equipment to stay on.
Providence Police initially said Kimbrough was a patient at the hospital, but Rhode Island Hospital spokesperson Christina O’Reilly later said he was not, adding that surveillance video shows Kimbrough walking up to the rescue from the street.
Lapatin said police had not yet received the video from Rhode Island Hospital. Pare said it’s unclear what Kimbrough’s motive or final destination was.
Pare said the vehicle is equipped with GPS that shows the driver never exceeded 65 miles per hour. West Greenwich Police Chief Richard Ramsay said while his officers were pursuing him, Kimbrough did not change lanes, speed and even slowed down at a construction site.
“I really don’t know what to make of it,” Ramsay said. “All I am is glad Providence has their rescue back, nobody was hurt and the suspect was taken into custody.”
The ambulance is worth an estimated $200,000, Pare said, adding that it did not sustain any damage. He said the driver also did not go into the back of the ambulance, where medication and expensive equipment is located.
Pare said Rescue 6 would be back in service on Tuesday.
According to a Connecticut State Police report, Kimbrough said he needed medical attention and was taken to the hospital after he was arrest. He is expected to be arraigned in Connecticut before he can be extradited back to Rhode Island to face charges in West Greenwich and Providence.
Empire State Medi-Cab didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.