Officers say Stephanie Erwin, 31, took a county-owned ambulance from Pardee Hospital at 11:49 a.m.
HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. -
Hendersonville Police didn’t have trouble spotting a stolen vehicle early Monday morning.
According to officers, Stephanie Erwin, 31, took a county-owned ambulance from Pardee Hospital.
“We have experienced chases, but never something like this,” said Capt. Bruce Simonds.
Simonds says the woman had just been released from emergency room when she took off in the unlocked ambulance.
Paramedics had left the vehicle running as they were bringing in a patient.
Erwin led officers on a 3.5 mile pursuit that reached speeds up to 70 miles-per-hour.
Police eventually had to deploy stop-sticks to get the ambulance to pull over.
Simonds says Erwin refused to leave the vehicle and was physically extricated from the ambulance.
7 On Your Side followed up with Rocky Hyder, director of Henderson County Emergency Services to find out how Erwin got away with the vehicle.
Hyder admits the unit should have been secured when paramedics were handing their patient over to doctors.
“It is probably more of training issue at this point,” says Hyder. “We never had to consider someone stealing an ambulance, but times have changed and we'll adapt to it."
Hyder says ambulances have to be left running, especially during the winter and summer months.
He will be reminding paramedics that you can't ever be too careful. The agency will also be looking into some additional security measures to make sure emergency responders are focused on saving lives, not chasing ambulances.
Erwin is charged with larceny, DWI, fleeing an officer, assault with a deadly weapon in addition to stealing the ambulance.