A high speed chase late Saturday night involving a stolen ambulance resulted in a wreck that put the driver in intensive care.
Late Saturday evening, two emergency service personnel were on duty at the EMS substation at 39 Peach Street in Lakeland when a noise was heard coming from the carport.
“One of the EMTs heard a noise and thought it was just his partner securing the rig,” said Capt. Steve Miller with the Lakeland Police Department. “But when he saw that his partner was in the other room, he realized that someone was trying to get into the ambulance.”
By the time the EMTs made it to the carport, the ambulance was being driven off. The vehicle was staged in an emergency-ready status. The doors were unlocked, and the keys were in the ignition to allow EMTs to quickly respond to a call for assistance, said Miller.
After receiving a 911 call from the EMTs, Lakeland police chased the stolen ambulance to Walker’s Crossing on Highway 122 where the Lanier County Sheriff’s Department continued the chase. A deputy attempted to pull the driver over, but the vehicle turned onto Highway 129, traveling towards Ray City where the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, Ray City Police Department and the Georgia State Patrol joined the chase.
GSP took lead on the chase and observed that the driver was crossing into other lanes and driving dangerously, according to Sgt. Jeromy Roberts. Before the ambulance reached Nashville, a trooper identified a safe area and performed a pursuit intervention technique to stop the ambulance, according to Roberts.
“The ambulance went into the ditch and rolled over several times, dislodging the body of the ambulance from the cab,” said Miller. “The driver was ejected, and the vehicle landed on top of him.”
The driver, identified as Joseph Michael Allen, 18, of Lakeland, was transported to South Georgia Medical Center and then life-flighted to Tallahassee Memorial where he was admitted to the intensive care unit and is being treated for his injuries. The extent of Allen’s injuries is unknown.
Once in police custody, Allen faces charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, theft by taking of a vehicle, receiving stolen property, driving on an expired learner’s permit, obstruction of a law enforcement officer, speeding, reckless driving, fleeing, driving on the wrong side of the road, failure to maintain lane, disregarding a stop sign and not wearing a seatbelt, stated Miller.