Two injured when truck, ambulance collide in intersection

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

An early Thursday morning wreck involving an ambulance and a GMC Jimmy that occurred at the intersection of Highway 19 and Zebulon Road injured two people, one seriously.

“The GMC Jimmy was traveling north on State Route 3 and the ambulance was coming out of Pike County going to a Spalding County hospital,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kendrick Lowe, of the Georgia State Patrol-Griffin Post, who explained the investigation into this incident is ongoing. “What we have right now is the ambulance was responding with lights and sirens going. It was moving through the intersection and what we know right now is that the two collided in the intersection. The investigating trooper is speaking to witnesses, trying to get video possibly if he can from businesses in the area to try to determine who was at fault.”

Lowe said witnesses have provided some information into how the incident occurred.

“What we have so far is that we do have a red light on the ambulance side, and the light was green travelling north, according to witnesses,” he said.

The ambulance had its lights and siren activated.

According to witnesses, the force of impact caused the ambulance to overturn.

“We think it overturned at least once. If not completely at least on its side. That’s one of the things we’ll be looking into later – we’ve got to look at the truck to see if did a complete rollover,” Lowe said. “Witnesses say it did, so if it did, how many times it rolled over.”

The investigating trooper has not definitively determined the speed each vehicle was travelling.

“We haven’t got that far into it yet. We’re going back out to mark the scene to see if speed played a factor, but preliminarily, the investigating trooper does not believe excessive speed was a factor,” Kendrick said.

Both injured parties were passengers in the Grady ambulance.

“The ambulance did have a patient in the back who was injured, and the medic in the back was injured,” Kendrick said. “The patient in the back was taken to Atlanta Medical and the EMT was taken to Spalding Regional. The driver of the ambulance denied treatment, and I think the driver of the passenger vehicle, I don’t think he was injured.”

The female ambulance patient was transported by a second ambulance to Atlanta Medical Center because weather conditions prevented transport by LifeFlight.

The extent of injuries is unknown, but believed to be serious.

Asked to explain the law pertaining to yielding to emergency vehicles, and how they may proceed through intersections, Kendrick said, “The law is emergency vehicles have to yield when we come to an intersection. That’s one of the things we stress to all law enforcement, all firefighters and all EMTs – about making sure that we clear an intersection as we’re approaching it with our lights and sirens. Now, when we’re using our lights and sirens, we’ll still ask for drivers to yield for us, so cars, vehicles, drivers,  should yield to emergency vehicles when they’re approaching an intersection, but we have to slow down and make sure the intersection is clear.”

The investigating trooper will have to determine what each driver’s actions were.

“He’s going to look at what both drivers’ actions were, what each driver saw and what they were doing. What did the driver of the ambulance say he was doing at the time of the crash? Did he slow down to make sure that it was clear to travel on through, because that’s something we have to do – we’ve got to slow down. Like I said earlier, whether it’s an ambulance, a state trooper or a fighter, we’ve got to slow down and look both ways – always when we go through that intersection to make sure it’s safe. We’re going to yield back to that other driver, as well. We don’t know if they see us or not. We hope so, but we have to make sure. We have to slow down to make sure they see us before we travel on through,” Lowe said.

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