(NEW YORK) — The New York City Fire Department is mourning the loss of an emergency medical technician and mother of five who died Thursday night after she was run over by her own ambulance.
Yadira Arroyo, an EMT and 14-year veteran of the FDNY, was driving an ambulance with her partner in the Bronx on Thursday night when they were flagged down by a pedestrian. Arroyo and her partner pulled the vehicle over and both got out to help, according to a press release from the New York City Police Department.
At this time, a man entered the driver’s side of the ambulance. Arroyo and her partner tried to prevent the individual from driving away but the man put the ambulance in reverse, knocking Arroyo to the ground and driving over her with the vehicle. The man continued driving in reverse, striking two occupied cars and a parked, unoccupied vehicle, police said.
The man then drove the ambulance forward, subsequently dragging Arroyo into the middle of the intersection. While trying to turn left, the ambulance crashed into two more parked vehicles before coming to a stop near a corner. The man attempted to flee on foot but was apprehended by an on-duty officer with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority who was on patrol, according to police.
Police officers responding to the incident found Arroyo lying in the roadway unconscious and unresponsive with trauma to her body. She was taken to a local hospital in critical condition, where was pronounced dead, police said.
— FDNY (@FDNY) March 17, 2017
Arroyo, 44, is the eighth member of the FDNY EMS to die in the line of duty. She was a mother to five children, the fire department said.
Arroyo’s EMT partner, a 30-year-old woman, was transported to the hospital for injuries to her neck and shoulder. She is in stable condition, according to police.
No one in the occupied vehicles that were struck during the incident were injured, police said.
We lost a 14-year veteran of the FDNY tonight. She was an EMT and a mother of five. New Yorkers join together in mourning her loss.
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) March 17, 2017
EMTs are heroes who help countless New Yorkers every day. Tonight’s tragedy in the Bronx is horrible.
My deepest sympathies to the family.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 17, 2017
During a press conference Thursday night, officials struggled to make sense of the tragedy.
“An emergency medical technician lost in the line of duty bravely doing her job and encountering the kind of danger that our EMTs should not have to confront,” New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We lost a good woman.”
New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro added, “No matter how many times we do this, it doesn’t make it any easier.”
Police have identified the suspect as Jose Gonzalez, a 25-year-old Bronx resident. Gonzalez was charged with murder, grand larceny and operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs. He is expected to be in court on Friday.
Police confirmed to ABC station WABC that Gonzalez is an emotionally disturbed person who has had several previous interactions with law enforcement. He has two dozen prior arrests, including criminal mischief, assault as well as marijuana possession and sale.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing.
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