A WATERBURY, CONNECTICUT, MAN HAS BEEN CHARGED with stealing an ambulance and eluding police on Monday. Michael Chowka, 36, told officers that he “was just looking for a ride home” at 5:30 am when he found the AMR ambulance parked in front of a nursing home with the keys in the ignition. The ambulance crew had gone inside to pick up a patient for a non-emergency transport.
Google Street View of the St. Regis Health Center, nursing home
scene where the AMR ambulance was taken.
When Chowka drove off, AMR’s GPS tracking software picked up the signal and they were able to follow it and relay the information to the police. The New Haven Register picks up the story:
According to Seymour police Lt. Paul Satkowski, New Haven police pursued the ambulance to the Woodbridge line, but broke off the chase when the vehicle left the city.
Seymour police then responded to a broadcast from New Haven and sent officers to Route 67 near the Woodbridge line.
At about 5:30 a.m., the ambulance was seen entering Seymour. Officers deployed stop sticks, spiked strips of plastic, and deflated three of the ambulance’s four tires, bringing it to a stop, Satkowski said.
AMR General Manager Charles Babson said the ambulance is equipped with GPS “so the dispatchers were able to watch it and relay that information to police, so they got turn-by-turn descriptions.”
“The whole time, he was driving normal traffic and travel. No lights, no sirens. Didn’t go higher than 35 miles per hour,” Babson said.
The ambulance was returned to American Medical Response of Connecticut. Satkowski said it suffered no damage other than the flat tires.
“It wasn’t even a half an hour before we had the truck back. A couple of tires (and) it was back on the road this morning,” Babson said.