In what must have been a bizarre scene for commuters, police in San Francisco could be seen pursuing one of the city's ambulances.
The reason: Someone stole it, officials said.
Firefighters and paramedics were retrieving a person who was reportedly suffering a life-threatening emergency inside an apartment building on Mason Street in the Tenderloin district shortly after 8 a.m. when they emerged from the building to find their ambulance gone, said Lt. Jonathan Baxter of the San Francisco Fire Department.
The group requested a second ambulance and called police, who along with the California Highway Patrol spotted the van heading east on the Bay Bridge, Baxter said.
The ambulance didn't get far.
The driver – an unidentified woman – exited at Treasure Island, then crashed into a concrete barrier, Baxter said. Photos from the crash site show the ambulance leaning on its side, its undercarriage balancing on top of the barrier. It caught fire and its front end was charred.
The 2003 Ford ambulance was valued at about $150,000 and is a total loss, Baxter said. It's unclear if the equipment – worth $50,000 to $75,000 – was salvageable, he said.
The woman was taken into custody on suspicion of felony evading police, hit and run and vehicle theft, police said.
As for the initial medical emergency – the patient was taken to the hospital and will survive, Baxter said. Authorities are reviewing the department's protocols to ensure Tuesday's event doesn't happen again, he said.