HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) – Law enforcement continue to search for the suspect who reportedly stole a Darlington County ambulance just after 1 a.m. Thursday while paramedics took a patient into Carolina Pines Hospital in Hartsville.
According to Darlington County Administrator Charles Stewart, the individual drove the ambulance seven or eight miles after stealing it from the hospital bay. It was later found on the side of the road.
"There was no damage to the ambulance and nothing stolen, except for the ignition key," Stewart said.
An incident report from the Hartsville Police Department states the ambulance was unlocked and the keys were inside when paramedics took the patient into the hospital and minutes later a suspect rode up in a blue old style bicycle and left it in the parking lot before taking off in the ambulance.
"There were no people present with the ambulance and no visible damage and the only thing appeared to be missing was the keys to the ambulance. So now they got the ambulance sent to our county shop and go over it and make sure everything is good before returning it to service, make a couple changes for security and everything should return back to normal" said Darlington County Emergency Management Coordinator Molly Odom.
Darlington County Emergency management said the ambulance was later discovered on South Center Road eight miles away from Carolina Pines. It was headed on 151 towards Darlington. South Carolina Highway Patrol and a Darlington County deputy were also called to help and said the suspect left the ambulance on a shoulder along 208 South Center Road .
"There was nobody present with it we have no reason to believe anybody was hurt at the time, none of our employees were hurt, none of our patients were hurt, they did not do any obvious damage to the ambulance," Odom said.
The EMS supervisor was able to tell law enforcement where the ambulance could be found by utilizing the vehicle's GPS tracking system that are installed every single ambulance.
Odom explained, "Both for our benefit and for the constituents of the county so we can keep it with that equipment and they are pretty expensive and if there had been damages we do have insurance coverage to cover those being replaced but fortunately we are not in that situation."
Hartsville Police are investigating the case.