A former Arizona State University basketball player was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of stealing an ambulance and leading police on a brief pursuit, telling officers he did it because it was too hot to walk home, Mesa police said.
Todd Tanner Shell, 37, is accused of stealing the ambulance from Banner Desert Hospital, at U.S. 60 and Dobson Road in Mesa, after being released from the hospital for a heat-related issue, Mesa Police said.
When officers interviewed Shell after his arrest, he told them he came out of the hospital, he began walking but then thought “it was too hot to walk home,” police said. The high temperature Tuesday in Phoenix reached 116 degrees, which tied the date’s high record set in 2014.
He walked back to the hospital and found the ambulance running in the bay while the crew was dropping off another patient, police said. Shell decided to take the ambulance, so he wouldn’t have to walk, police said.
Responding officers used GPS to find the ambulance driving eastbound on U.S. 60, police said.
Mesa officers and Department of Public Safety troopers tried to stop Shell, but he continued driving at normal speeds until he exited the freeway and eventually stopped near Val Vista and University drives, police said.
Shell told police he wanted to buy a sandwich but needed to go home and get some money first, police said., He also told officers he intended to return the ambulance, police said.
The ambulance was not damaged and returned to service, police said.
Shell was booked on one count unlawful use of means of transportation and one count unlawful flight from law enforcement.
Shell was a top basketball player at Mesa Mountain View high school, winning two state titles, and played at Arizona State University from 1999 to 2002.
His dad, Todd Shell, was a former Mountain View, BYU and NFL linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers who won two Super Bowl rings before becoming an Arena Football League Coach of the Year with the New York Dragons.
Todd Tanner Shell’s bio on the ASU website still includes a “fill-in-the-blank”-style Q&A he answered while a player. Among the questions and answers: “The thing I like most about Tempe is…the 140-degree heat.”