A Harvard University graduate student has been accused of stealing an ambulance and leading police on a high speed chase.
Heather Sullivan, 37, was brought in by the Buffalo Police Department and was being treated for probable intoxication and an injury early Sunday morning, according to the Erie County Medical Center.
“While awaiting medical evaluation, the patient fled the emergency room and drove off in an ambulance,” a spokesman for the hospital said in a statement.
The ambulance, owned by Rural Metro, was sitting outside the hospital at the emergency room ramp, unattended, with the keys in the ignition.
Rural Metro spokesman Jay Smith would not comment on whether it was proper protocol to leave the keys in an unattended amublance, but said it was the first time one of their ambulances had been stolen.
“The whole thing is still under investigation. As I think most of the law enforcement community would say, we’re just happy no one else was hurt in this event,” Smith said.
Buffalo Police say Sullivan began to drive the vehicle at a high speed. Police immediately began to pursue the vehicle. Officers say the ambulance almost struck several pedestrians and vehicles at an intersection and Sullivan eventually lost control of the ambulance, causing it to crash.
Sullivan was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, grand larceny, criminal possession of a stolen vehicle and other charges, according to a report obtained by ABC Buffalo affiliate WKBW.
“This ambulance is not going to be a drivable resource for us, it’s totaled,” Smith said. “Ambulances run usually from $80,000 to $100,000. This one ran closer to $100,000.”
Sullivan’s attorney Paul Cambria said they are starting to do their own investigation into the incident.
Sullivan entered a plea of not guilty in court Monday. Her bail was set at $10,000 and posted for her release.
“There are vastly extenuating circumstances that explain the conduct and we’ll get into those a later date,” Cambria told ABC News.
Harvard University School of Design, where Sullivan is a graduate student, would not comment on their student’s legal trouble, but said they were in communication the office of general counsel.