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Bloomington Woman Dies After Car Is Struck By Ambulance

Steve Wagner

Over the weekend, a woman was killed when her PT Cruiser was hit by a Seals ambulance. The ambulance was northbound on Indiana 37 with its lights and sirens on when the crash occurred, but witnesses say the driver of the PT Cruiser had a green light to progress through the intersection. Mary Pietsch of Bloomington was heading west on South Victor Pike when her vehicle was t-boned by the ambulance. The force of the crash was great enough to send both vehicles off the road and into the median. Mary Pietsch, tragically, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

The Seals ambulance was driven by 35-year-ol Joshua Davis and was en route to Indiana Health Bloomington Hospital with a patient in critical condition at the time of the accident. Shortly after the crash, IU Health sent three additional ambulances to the scene, and the patient in critical condition was transferred and taken to the hospital. The ambulance driver and medics were not injured, but the driver was taken to the hospital for a standard blood draw. Investigators do not believe drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash.

Thousands of Traffic Accidents Involving Ambulances Each Year

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are around 4500 roadway collisions involving ambulances annually in the United States. Thirty-four percent, or a little over 1500, of these crashes resulted in injuries. Such accidents can be downright deadly, with an average of 33 fatalities occurring in ambulance accidents each year.

Somewhat surprisingly, the majority of the deaths (63%) are comprised of occupants from the non-ambulance vehicle, such as in the death of Mary Pietsch. One might initially think, given the nature of work inside an emergency vehicle, that unrestrained medics or the already ill/injured patients might be more at risk in an accident. Severe injuries to medics and patients are often a result of being insufficiently restrained. The NHTSA found only 33% of patients in ambulances involved in serious crashes were properly restrained with both shoulder and lap restraints. A full 84% of medics inside ambulances are completely unrestrained, often because they are working on patients.

And yet, still the people most at risk are those in the other vehicle—why? It may have something to do with the way the two cars collide. Since emergency vehicles are crossing through intersections, many times while traffic flows across their path. A driver who is fatigued or is not paying due attention to the road for any reason can easily find him or herself in a t-bone or broadside accident, slamming directly into the side of another driver’s vehicle. Such accidents are among the most lethal, as the impact is to a part of the vehicle close to occupants where there is little protective space or hardware.

Our vehicular accident attorneys at Wagner Reese have decades of experience with a wide variety of crash types. We have a history of successful representation of clients made vulnerable by the wrongdoing of others. If you have been injured in an accident with an ambulance or other emergency services vehicle, call us today at (888) 204-8440 for a free consultation.

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