December 16, 2018
A patient being transported in an ambulance in the Lake Elsinore area on Sunday broke out of his restraints and commandeered the vehicle, leading police on a lengthy chase north on the 15 Freeway that ended northeast of the Cajon Pass when the man got out, ran away on foot, then surrendered.
The chase began at around 3:30 p.m., according to an official at a Riverside police dispatch center. That’s when California Highway Patrol officers responded to a call about the stolen ambulance.
A pair of paramedics working for Mission Ambulance picked the man up at Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar, according to a dispatcher for the company. He was restrained in the vehicle.
The two female paramedics drove north on the 15 Freeway for about 20 minutes. That’s when the man got out of his restraints.
Amanda Coria, the Mission Ambulance dispatcher, said the man confronted the two paramedics, possibly leading to a scuffle inside the vehicle. Both got out, then the man took the wheel and drove away.
One of the paramedics received a cut to her hand during the scuffle, Coria said.
While he was driving in Riverside County, CHP officers attempted to stop him using a spike strip. But the Riverside dispatcher said he drove around them.
With several CHP, Riverside County Sheriff and San Bernardino County Sheriff units tailing him, the man drove for about a hour and a half north on the 15 Freeway.
At one point in the chase, the man rolled down the driver’s side window, stuck out his arm and slapped the top of the ambulance.
Eventually, he passed the 15/210 freeway interchange in the Rancho Cucamonga/Fontana area and headed into the Cajon Pass, according to helicopter footage of the chase.
The man, clad only in a park of dark pants, in the High Desert later stopped the ambulance on the freeway and got out on foot, fleeing into the desert with a CHP officer on foot chasing him. The pursuit ended in Hesperia near the intersection of Mesa Street and Mariposa Road, NBC4 reported.
After a few minutes of running with a law enforcement helicopter circling above him, the man laid down on the dirt and surrendered.
CHP officials would not confirm the medical situation the man was suffering from that required him to be picked up by the ambulance.
Officials did not immediately identify the man.