A 21-year-old Vancouver man has been arrested for allegedly taking an American Medical Response ambulance for a joy ride early Sunday morning in Ridgefield.
Jake Fentz was arrested on suspicion of DUI, taking a motor vehicle without permission, hit and run and malicious mischief. American Medical Response is conducting an internal investigation into the circumstances that allowed Fentz to drive the ambulance, according to a spokeswoman.
Ridgefield Police allege Fentz climbed into an ambulance that was parked outside a Clark County Fire and Rescue station, 911 N. 65th Ave., at about 3:30 a.m. and drove through construction barriers before crashing into a ditch near a home on Timm Road, just off Interstate 5. The man fled the vehicle and was taken into custody by a K-9 unit after a dog found him hiding beneath heavy brush.
“We think he thought he was heading to the onramp,” said Ridgefield Police Chief Carrie Green. “He was a little out of it.”
She said the allegation that Fentz’s act was malicious can be traced to the type of vehicle he stole. The ambulance is often parked at the fire station to respond to Ridgefield-area emergencies.
“It’s the only one out here,” Green said. “When you take an emergency response vehicle, you are depriving the public of that service.”
Fentz wasn’t cooperative, according to Green. He told police he was leaving his girlfriend’s house when he came upon the ambulance.
“We’re not sure where he came from,” Green said. “There aren’t a lot of residences out there.”
Lucy Drum, an AMR spokeswoman, called the event “serious” and “quite concerning.”
“The policies are absolutely to keep the vehicle locked at all times,” she said.
The theft of emergency vehicles crops “up periodically,” Drum said.
“It’s happened at hospitals before,” she said. “It’s happened with police and fire vehicles as well. They’re very unfortunate incidents all the way around.”