An alleged ambulance hijacker has been arrested after taking an emergency vehicle on an overnight joyride across southern Ontario, leading three different police departments on a high-speed chase.
The 29-year-old man allegedly stole the ambulance from Cambridge Memorial hospital around midnight Sunday, jumping into the driver's seat while a paramedic was filling out paperwork on the passenger's side with the keys still in the ignition, according to CTV News.
Stephen Van Valkenburg, Waterloo Region’s chief of paramedic services, told CTV that the emergency worker was just about to lock the door when the man climbed inside.
Local police tracked down the car, but were unable to catch up as it sped across Highway 401, Waterloo Police Supt. Christopher Goss told CBC News, so Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) took over.
Stopped with a spike belt
The high-speed chase also crossed into York Region, but police failed to stop the car around 1:50 a.m. in Newmarket, Ont., according to CBC News.
OPP eventually managed to stop the car using a spike belt on Highway 26 near Rainbow Valley Road West around 6 a.m.
OPP acting Staff Sgt. Peter Leon told CTV Toronto the fact that the chase happened overnight was a "saving grace" that allowed police to follow from a safe distance.
Leon said the driver activated the emergency vehicle's sirens several times — and noted that ambulances have equipment capable of automatically changing traffic signals.
An emergency worker was just about to lock the door of an ambulance when a man climbed inside. (Photo: Getty Images)
No injuries or collisions were reported.
The driver, who is being held for a bail hearing, has been charged with possession of stolen property, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, and flight from police, according to the Toronto Star.
Van Valkenberg told CTV the paramedic did the right thing by getting out of the ambulance and not trying to stop the hijacker.
In March, a New York City EMT worker was killed after a man who stole her ambulance ran over her.