Suspect charged in ATCEMS ambulance hijacking

Ambulance stolen in Travis County

AUSTIN - Police have charged the man who allegedly hijacked an Austin-Travis County EMS ambulance on Christmas Day.

Court documents allege Rashard Williams, 28, took the ambulance while it was parked near the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) on Dec. 25. The affidavit for Williams states Williams was arrested on an unrelated charge on Dec. 27, and that his description and clothing matched that of the person seen on HALO cameras taking the ambulance.

The ambulance’s crew was tending to a patient when Williams allegedly got behind the wheel and drove it to South Austin before fleeing on foot.

"Completely unexpected a very rare event, and a surprise to everyone," Austin-Travis County EMS Captain Rick Rutledge told KVUE on Monday.

Rutledge said the paramedics strapped in the patient during the ride. 

"They put on shoulder straps, they got him buckled in, that's actually the safest place in the ambulance is being secured to the stretcher," he said.

Rutledge added the driver even used sirens while driving, and that EMS is not sure the driver was aware of the medics and patients in the back of the ambulance.

"The back of the ambulance you can see is completely isolated so there was never a conversation or any ability to question or speak to them so we really don't know what their motives were," said Rutledge. 

The incident marked the second time in a month that an ambulance has been taken. Earlier this month, Austin Police said David Oliver III, 43, stole an ambulance from University Medical Center-Brackenridge. Oliver then allegedly drove the ambulance north on Highway 183 to Killeen with multiple law enforcement agencies chasing him.

Rutledge said he feels these incidents are random and he doesn't think EMS is being targeted. But he noted it may be time to look at their protocol.

"Going forward we have to look at what our procedures are - what the possible safety features would be or things that we could consider. It's always looking back, would this have made a difference and we just don't know until things happen that you never thought would happen," said Rutledge. 

But he hopes it doesn't happen again. 

"I don't know why someone would want to interfere with the care of someone who needs care," said Rutledge. 

Williams has been charged with felony theft. The affidavit and jail records state he is being held on $30,000 bond.

(© 2017 KVUE)


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