Seven people were hurt in a five-vehicle pileup that shut down portions of U.S. 41 on the evening of Jan. 15, according to news reports. Florida authorities believe that an ambulance driver may have been responsible for the car accident that came perilously close to claiming lives. While no charges have been filed at this time, sources have reported that the driver will likely be cited.
The report states that the ambulance was on its way to a hospital with sirens activated when the crash took place. It appeared from witness statements that the ambulance failed to account for stopped traffic and did not move over in time to avoid a collision with stopped vehicles northbound on U.S. 41. The resulting collision eventually involved five vehicles in sequence.
Among those seven individuals taken to the hospital were the patient already being transported, as well as a passenger traveling with that patient and a medic on staff. It is unknown if the driver of the ambulance was injured in the crash, as he or she has not yet been publicly identified. A further four people, likely in some of the cars that were hit, were also transferred to a hospital. The conditions of those injured are not known at this time.
While ambulance and other emergency vehicles have a degree of autonomy to operate with more urgency than the average Florida driver, they are still beholden to the rules of the road. If it becomes clear that the ambulance driver could have avoided the car accident by operating the vehicle with more care, a citation seems likely. Additionally, those injured in the crash may be entitled to file suit against the driver for injuries incurred in the crash.
Source: heraldtribune.com, “UPDATE: Ambulance driver likely at fault in crash that injured 7“, Elizabeth Johnson, Jan. 15, 2015