An ambulance was stolen from The Medical Center late Monday, dragging the vehicle’s driver 20 feet before the suspect escaped from the hospital, police said.
The ambulance, driven by hospital patient Johnnie Carter, 36, wrecked moments later at PTAP, 306 13th St. Carter was arrested at the scene and is at the Muscogee County Jail, said Columbus Police Lt. William Orlich.
The ambulance driver was at The Medical Center about 11:50 p.m. doing some paperwork with the ambulance’s engine running when Carter, described in police reports as a psychiatric patient, stepped outside, Orlich added.
“A patient walked out, jumped in the ambulance and took off,” he added.
Paramedics with Mid Georgia Ambulance had just unloaded a 911 patient and the ambulance was locked at the time. The suspect forced his way inside the ambulance by breaking a window, said Amy Abel-Kiker, the ambulance company’s public relations director.
“The paramedics were following the absolute correct protocol,” Abel-Kiker said. “It was very cold outside. The engine was running, but it was locked. The paramedic did have the keys in his pocket.”
That paramedic tried to stop the ambulance as Carter drove away, and was dragged 20 feet before being thrown from the vehicle, Orlich said.
Police say Carter then drove south from the hospital before running the ambulance into PTAP, which is on 13th Street near Veterans Parkway.“He ran the ambulance into the building,” Orlich said.
The ambulance crashed into a recently renovated showcase window featuring a BMW 7 Series, PTAP owner Jason Gamache said.
Gamache estimated the damage at $35,000. He didn’t know how badly the BMW was damaged.
“They had the whole of 13th Street shut down,” said Gamache, who went to his auto accessory business when he learned of the crash.
Gamache had added new lighting and carpet to the showcase just more than a week ago.
“We’re a little bummed we just put that effort into it,” Gamache added. “Things like this happen when you own a business. You have to look at it in a positive light. It’s just material items. It’s not that big of a deal.”
Officers found Carter sitting inside the business with cuts to his forehead. Police took Carter back to the hospital and then to jail. Carter is charged with aggravated assault, theft by taking motor vehicle, second-degree criminal damage to property and traffic violations, Orlich said.
Carter, who’s being held without bond, is scheduled for Columbus Recorder’s Court at 8 a.m. Wednesday.