A man didn’t get far after taking an ambulance from Hamilton Medical Center early Friday morning, according to a police incident report.
John Williams, 57, no address listed, was charged Friday by the Dalton Police Department with felony theft of an automobile and hit and run. Williams remained in the Whitfield County jail Friday afternoon.
According to a Dalton Police Department incident report, officers were alerted by dispatch around 3:24 a.m. “that an ambulance had been stolen from the hospital after wrecking into the building.” Dispatch reported that the ambulance was traveling north on Chattanooga Road toward the bypass. One patrol car headed north on Shugart Road toward the bypass.
“As we turned onto Chattanooga Road from Shugart Road, we saw the ambulance stopped by the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office at the liquor store across from the (RaceTrac) gas station. Whitfield County deputies had already gotten the driver out of the vehicle and handcuffed by the time we pulled into the parking lot,” the report said.
One officer took Williams to the jail, while others went to the hospital.
The report said that someone at the hospital, whose name was redacted, told officers “he had seen Mr. Williams at the hospital earlier that day. He believed that Mr. Williams had already been removed by security.” Officers were told that Williams had been seen “walking around outside near the ambulance bay before the vehicle was taken.”
“At the hospital, there was damage to a sign, light pole, a tree, greenery around the tree and sign, and tire marks leading up onto (the) curb,” the report said. “The damage seen at the hospital was consistent with the damage shown on the ambulance vehicle. The ambulance vehicle had damage to the front and right side.”
“The ambulance had just transported a patient to the Emergency Department at Hamilton Medical Center and was unoccupied at the time of theft,” said Scott Radeker, director of Hamilton Emergency Medical Services. “While the unit was damaged, no medication or equipment was stolen.”
“Response times for emergency medical services were not and will not be impacted by this incident,” said Radeker. “A backup ambulance was immediately placed in service, and there was no decrease in the provision of 911 coverage. During the time it takes to repair or replace the damaged ambulance, the backup unit will be used. Hamilton EMS maintains backup ambulances to be utilized whenever front-line units require maintenance or repair. Hamilton EMS wishes to thank the Whitfield County E911 dispatchers and the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office for their quick and professional response.”