Student killed as car hits ambulance racing to call
VICTORIA, BC Canada-- It was every paramedic's worst nightmare -- their own ambulance involved in a fatal crash while racing to a call.
Yesterday, Victoria police traffic analysts, as well as the coroner's service and the B.C. Ambulance Service, were working to determine the cause of the crash that left a young University of Victoria student dead.
Police say Jerry Wong, 23, an international student from Hong Kong, was the driver and sole occupant of a fire-engine-red Acura that was hit by the ambulance as he tried to turn left off Hillside Avenue, one of the city's main east-west thoroughfares.
Police say all their interviews confirm that the ambulance had all its emergency lights activated and its siren wailing at top volume as it came up behind the Acura and went to pass it on the left-hand side.
Despite that, the Acura made the turn directly into the path of the ambulance, which smashed into the driver's-side door.
Wong was killed on impact.
Police Const. Rick Anthony said the air bags deployed in the ambulance, helping prevent serious injury to the two paramedics on board. Although shaken, they leapt out of the ambulance and immediately went to Wong's aid.
However, he was so badly trapped in the mangled wreckage that it was more than six hours before the fire department, using the Jaws of Life to cut apart the wreck, was able to free the body from the car.
Ironically, it was less than three weeks ago when Victoria police and fire departments and the ambulance service put on an educational program, urging mo-torists to take more care when meeting emergency vehicles.
Spokesmen for all three services said they now rarely went on a call in the city in which their way was not obstructed or impeded by errant drivers.
And they warned it could all too easily lead to a serious or fatal crash.
One issue being explored is whether the stereo in the Acura may have been playing so loudly that it was hard for someone to hear the sirens behind.
"That's something we worry about," said police Sgt. John Bond.
He and Anthony urged drivers to play stereos quietly enough so that they can hear what's going on around them.
© Copyright 2003 The Province
Ambulance, car crash fatal
One person was killed in an afternoon crash Friday when an ambulance collided with a car on Hillside Avenue at Graham Street.
Victoria police said the B.C. ambulance was driving west in the eastbound lanes with sirens on and lights flashing.
A red mid-'90s Acura was turning left from the westbound lanes -- meaning the driver would have to cross the eastbound lanes -- on to Graham when the collision happened just after 2 p.m., said Const. Rick Anthony.
The name of the 23-year-old driver, a Greater Victoria man, is not being released until his family is notified. He was the only occupant of the vehicle.
Anthony said the paramedics were very shaken, but jumped out of the ambulance and tried to revive the driver for several minutes, until he was pronounced dead at the scene.
One of the paramedics received a minor cut on his head. Both paramedics were taken to hospital as a precaution.
Chris Scott, 14, was on his way home from school when the crash happened.
"I saw the ambulance speeding down the road," he said. "(I heard) a lot of screeching and a pretty loud crash."
Lee Hart and Tony Plant, both 22, were just about to pull into a store at the corner of Hillside and Fifth Street when they heard the crash they described as a loud "pssshhhhhhh."
Hart said the car's tires began smoking as the ambulance, pushing the car, moved several metres down the road until it stopped between Fifth and Graham.
Bob Pearce, manager of communications for B.C. Ambulance, said both paramedics have several years' experience on the job. While he said they will work with police investigators, ambulance officials will look into the crash on their own. Counselling is made available to the paramedics or anyone else who might want to talk, Pearce said.
Anthony said police will try to determine if the driver did not see the ambulance's flashing lights or hear the siren.
Last month, police, fire and ambulance officials held a press conference to teach drivers about what to do when an emergency vehicle meets them on the road.
© Copyright 2003 The Province/Vancouver Times