Omaha Police Chase Stolen Ambulance

Omaha fire officials said a man who stole an ambulance on Tuesday morning was the first such incident the department has seen in nearly 25 years.

Steve Rainey, 39, of Hastings faces several charges including two counts of criminal mischief, theft and felony destruction of property after he allegedly took police on a chase through north Omaha that lasted about 45 minutes.

The rescue squad was taken from the Open Door Mission near 21st and Locust streets, police said.

The incident started as a call for a person having a diabetic reaction. Paramedics responded to the Open Door Mission before 2 a.m. Rescuers went inside to help and left the squad running outside. That's when someone jumped in and drove off.

Several police cruisers and the Omaha police helicopter chased the stolen rescue ambulance through north Omaha along the Missouri River, where the vehicle crashed through a fence at the Omaha Public Power District plant on John J. Pershing Drive. Stop sticks were deployed at several locations along the route, but the chase continued.

It ended near 20th and Vinton streets.

Fire Battalion Chief Joe Fuxa said that department policy requires responders to leave the ambulance running during emergency calls, and Tuesday's incident isn't likely to change that policy.

"Once all the facts are in, the fire chief will have an investigation done and he will determine if there needs to be any policy changes. But at this time, no. There are no plans for any procedure or policy changes," Fuxa said.

Fire officials said most of their ambulances cost about $150,000. Damages from Tuesday's chase are estimated at $10,000.

Rainey is due in court on Friday.

Court documents show Rainey was supposed to appear in court in Adams County last week for multiple misdemeanor charges, but failed to appear so a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Copyright 2006 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

News stories provided by third parties are not edited by "Site Publication" staff. For suggestions and comments, please click the Contact link at the bottom of this page.