Drunk Man Steals One Ambulance, Needs Another

By Will Godfrey 10/03/11

One impulsive Chicago drinker's joyride was as brief as it was crazy this weekend.

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One drunken joyrider had an irony-filled night in Chicago this weekend. At 1:40 am on Sunday morning, 36-year-old local Juan Hernandez, in an advanced state of intoxication, came upon two paramedics loading an empty stretcher into an unoccupied ambulance at the city's Norwegian-American Hospital. As they busied themselves at the back of the vehicle, Hernandez opportunistically jumped into the front and drove off, say the police. But he only got about a mile and a half—smashing into a few parked cars along the way—before crashing to a final halt. The injuries he sustained—which, fortunately, were only minor—meant that a second ambulance had to be dispatched to collect him. And rush him straight back to the Norwegian-American Hospital, which may have seemed vaguely familiar, his condition notwithstanding. Hernandez' next stop is likely to be the courthouse; his charges include criminal damage to government property, possession of a stolen vehicle, reckless driving, driving without a license and, of course, a DUI. But drunken ambulance theft isn't as unusual a crime as you might think—a wasted Wisconsin resident aged 24 went one better by hijacking an ambulance complete with paramedics treating an injured person in the back in February 2010. And 52-year-old Paul John Sos stole yet another ambulance after checking himself out of a San Diego hospital a couple of months later, to which he'd been brought—by an ambulance—dead drunk.

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Will Godfrey is the former editor-in-chief of TheFix. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of Substance.com, and previously co-founded a magazine for prisoners in London. His work has appeared in Salon, Pacific Standard, AlterNet and The Nation among others. He is currently the Executive Director at FILTER. You can find Will on Linkedin and Twitter.