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Fire engine is stolen in Riverside while firefighters render aid

Map location where fire truck was stolen
(Los Angeles Times)

A woman stole a fire engine Thursday evening in Riverside as its crew was treating an elderly patient, driving the engine about three miles on a freeway before being apprehended by the police, authorities said.

At 6 p.m., Riverside police officers responded to the 100000 block of Hole Avenue in Riverside to help an elderly man who had stopped breathing, Officer Ryan Railsback said.

The officers performed CPR and resuscitated the man when an ambulance and the Riverside City Fire Department’s Engine 8 arrived, Railsback said.

Firefighters were helping the man into the ambulance when a police dispatcher fielded a call: “I’m seeing some lady climbing up into a firetruck and stealing it,” the caller said, according to Railsback.

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Authorities followed the engine using an onboard vehicle tracking system, said Battalion Chief Bruce Vanderhorst of the Riverside City Fire Department.

The woman drove along La Sierra Avenue and onto the 91 Freeway, striking at least two cars and causing minor damage, Railsback said.

The woman abandoned the engine on an offramp and fled toward Adams Street, yanking at the door handles of several cars that had pulled to a halt, Railsback said. She was apprehended on the offramp and arrested on suspicion of auto theft and driving under the influence.

The joyride spanned three miles and lasted about six minutes, Vanderhorst and Railsback said.

According to Railsback, she told one of the arresting officers, “She saw it and just decided to try it out.”

Railsback said he did not know the woman’s name because she had been taken to a hospital and had not been booked.

“Her little fun joyride — whatever you want to call it — hopefully, it hasn’t lost anyone any assistance,” he said. “When you do this, you’re depriving the community of a service, even temporarily.”

The Fire Department plans to inspect the engine Friday for any damage.

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“It’s a first for us,” said Vanderhorst, the battalion chief. “I’ve never heard anything like it.”


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