Calif. Woman Takes Ambulance on a Joy Ride
The Record, Stockton, Calif.
Aug. 14—A woman allegedly stole an ambulance while its crew was picking up a patient inside St. Joseph's Medical Center on Monday evening, led authorities on a wild pursuit through town and up Interstate 5 and finally was captured about a half-hour later after a spike strip flattened the ambulance's two front tires.
There was no patient in the ambulance at the time and no one was injured during the incident. There was, however, extensive damage to the $100,000 vehicle, Norcal Ambulance spokesman Eric Larimer said.
Stockton police initially responded to St. Joseph's at 1800 N. California St. about 6:10 p.m. on the report of the stolen Norcal ambulance. With the use of a GPS tracking device, officers quickly located the ambulance north of the Calaveras River near Bianchi Road and Townehome Drive and attempted to make a traffic stop.
Instead, the driver—identified as 34-year-old Natasha Michelle Scott—took off west on surface streets, eventually entering northbound I-5 from West March Lane with Stockton officers in pursuit. The 10-mile, 11-minute pursuit was terminated for safety reasons after speeds reached 90 miles per hour, police reported.
The California Highway Patrol was notified and continued the pursuit, all the while getting GPS location information on the ambulance from Norcal dispatchers, according to Larimer.
About 6:25 p.m., the CHP picked up the chase. Near the Walnut Grove interchange, the ambulance made an illegal U-turn through the brush-covered median and began traveling southbound. As it approached Turner Road, the CHP was able to lay out spike strips that successfully disabled the ambulance. It stopped less than a mile south of Turner, and Scott was arrested and turned over to Stockton police.
Later Monday night, Scott was booked into San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp on two felonies—suspicion of taking an on-call emergency vehicle and possession of a stolen vehicle—and several more misdemeanors and infractions, including suspicion of evading police. She also was wanted on two warrants from another county and is being held in lieu of more than $150,000 bail.
Scott is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in Stockton at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"I want to acknowledge how well the California Highway Patrol and Stockton police worked with us to pursue the ambulance and how quickly they resolved this issue without anyone being injured or hurt," Larimer said.
While the damage to the ambulance was significant, he said there was no impact to patient care and no equipment or medications in the ambulance were tampered with.
Said Larimer: "She just took it for a joyride."