Ambulance Stolen From in Front of Mo. Hospital

March 19, 2013
A full-size ambulance which was transporting a mortally injured crash victim was stolen from in front of a St. Louis hospital as medics and EMTs worked to save the patient's life early Monday morning.

March 18--ST. LOUIS -- An ambulance idling outside the emergency department at Barnes-Jewish Hospital was stolen early Monday while medical personnel tried to save the paramedics' critically injured patient.

The full-size ambulance, owned by MedStar of Belleville, was used to transport the patient from a one-car accident that occured about 1:50 a.m. on Illinois Route 3 in Fairmont City. Kristen M. Treat, 31, of St. Louis, was pronounced dead in the emergency room.

While paramedics were still inside the hospital, someone jumped into the ambulance shortly before 3 a.m. and drove away. The paramedics hadn't set a lock that secures the ambulance while it is idling.

"The patient was in such critical condition they wanted to get her into the hospital quickly," said Tim Brown, Medstar operations manager.

The ambulance was found three hours later at 15th Street and College Avenue. Brown said the ambulance did not appear to have been damaged or ransacked, and the keys were left on the driver's seat.

Brown said at least one witness saw the theft of the ambulance, which also was recorded by security cameras. Brown said the thief, a woman, apparently had been a patient in the emergency department "and needed a ride home."

A St. Louis police spokeswoman said detectives were pursuing leads on suspects.

Brown said MedStar understood the paramedics' focus was to save the patient, but also said managers would review the procedure with them. "This could be dangerous," he said of leaving an ambulance vulnerable to theft.

The accident victim had been transported from a wreck at an intersection under construction for Route 3 and the highway approach to the new Mississippi River bridge. Police said she was thrown from a Pontiac Grand Prix that struck a bridge pier in the construction area.

Fairmont City firefighters removed the male driver, Kameron Lederer, 24, of East St. Louis, from the wreck. He was taken to a St. Louis hospital in stable condition, police said.

Police sought a motorist who stopped briefly at the crash scene and told others he had witnessed it, but left before officers could interview him. Police said the potential witness is a male, about 30 years old, who drove a tan or brown Ford F-150 pickup with Illinois plates.

The department asks the man to call 618-874-6100.

Copyright 2013 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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