Man fights for life after stolen ambulance hits school bus
A 46-year-old man is fighting for his life after a stolen ambulance he was driving crashed head-first into a school bus.
Gardai said that if the accident had happened a short time later there would have been children on the bus.
The events unfolded after the ambulance and a crew of two paramedics arrived at lunchtime yesterday with a patient at the emergency department of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Co Louth.
One of the paramedics had brought the patient into the department and the second paramedic was in the rear of the ambulance. The back doors were open and its rear platform was partially lowered when the vehicle suddenly began to move.
It is believed the keys were taken from the front of the vehicle by a man who then drove off. The paramedic in the back jumped to safety and was uninjured.
Gardai were alerted and were told it had been driven off in the direction of the Ballymakenny Road, Drogheda, less than a kilometre from the hospital grounds.
"A motorist reported that the ambulance was on the Ballymakenny road with its back doors open," Garda Inspector Brendan Cadden said.
Gardai in a patrol van saw the ambulance on the Ballymakenny road and followed it at a distance.
"The blue lights were activated and the gardai witnessed the collision," added Inspector Cadden.
The gardai alerted the fire brigade and the ambulance service and they were quickly on the scene.
Hospital sources last night said that the 46-year-old man had himself been brought to hospital by ambulance on Thursday, complaining of headaches.
He is believed to have been on a trolley in the emergency department when he decided to leave.
The bus, which is operated by local company Carrolls, was carrying no passengers at the time. It was travelling away from the town centre and towards Aston Village Educate Together primary school.
"If the crash had happened later it would have had school children on it," said Inspector Cadden.
A spokeswoman for the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission confirmed that it had been notified that gardai were in pursuit of the vehicle when the crash occurred.
Firefighters from Drogheda used cutting equipment to free the driver of the ambulance and he was then removed by ambulance to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.
Hospital sources last night said he was in intensive care and very seriously ill.
The driver of the bus was said to have minor cuts but to be very seriously shocked by the experience.
The road remained closed until 5.30pm yesterday to allow for the vehicles and the scene of the collision to be technically examined.
Meanwhile, gardai in Dublin have launched an investigation into a serious collision that occurred between a car and a fire brigade engine.
The incident occurred on Ranelagh Bridge, next to the Barge Pub, at about 5.30pm yesterday.
Four units of Dublin Fire Brigade and two ambulances attended the scene.
Following the crash, the driver was removed from the car by emergency crews from the fire brigade and the road was closed.
Four fire officers and the driver of the car were rushed to hospital.
The fire truck, based in Donnybrook station, was responding to a call at the time of the accident. The fire engine was badly damaged but it is hoped it can be put back on the road after repairs.