Chase involving stolen ambulance from Lufkin ends with crash into Rusk gas station

Chase involving stolen ambulance from Lufkin ends with crash into Rusk gas station
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 1:56 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2023 at 6:56 PM CDT
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RUSK, Texas (KLTV) - A man stole an ambulance from a Lufkin hospital Thursday afternoon and led authorities on pursuit that ended in Rusk when he crashed into a gas pump.

The wreck occurred at the Kim’s station at 1580 Dickinson Drive, damaging a pump and the roof over the station.

Lufkin Police spokesperson Jessica Pebsworth said the man, whose name will not be released at this time, walked away from CHI St. Luke’s Memorial Lufkin after being taken there by a family member. Pebsworth said he then stole a San Augustine County EMS ambulance from the emergency room parking lot. The San Augustine EMS crew was inside the hospital with a patient at the time.

Authorities were notified of the theft at 12:38 p.m., and within three minutes, officers were in pursuit of the ambulance on Loop 287, Pebsworth said. The suspect headed north to U.S. 69 and continued toward Pollok at speeds of around 80 mph.

Lufkin officers turned the pursuit over to the Texas Department of Public Safety and Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office at 1:11 p.m. in Alto. A short time later, dispatch was notified by Cherokee County that the suspect had wrecked out at Kim’s Convenience Store on U.S. 69 in Rusk.

Cherokee County Chief Deputy Martin Pepin tells how the ambulance ended up on its side at Kim’s convenience store in Rusk.

“Coming past this convenience store it either turned and went around in a circle on a side street or just made a U-turn to come back traveling south traveling at a high rate of speed, the vehicle left the roadway, traveled couple hundred yards through the ditch, and ultimately crashed into the gas pumps and the awning at this gas station,” said Pepin.

Ambulance crash
Ambulance crash(Submitted photo)

At about 3:45 p.m., authorities were still on scene at Kim’s. According to Martin Pepin with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, they will not be able to move the vehicle and begin clearing the scene until they can get the gas pump fuel line capped off. Some fuel did spill, Pepin said, but they were able to contain it safely. The convenience store and some unaffected pumps remain open for business.

Pepin said investigation will continue, with Cherokee County authorities taking responsibility for the scene in Rusk and Angelina County authorities investigating the theft from Lufkin.

The suspect was reportedly air lifted from the scene with unknown injuries, Pebsworth said. Pepin indicated he was taken to a hospital in Jacksonville.

The hospital released a statement on the incident, saying, “We are cooperating with the appropriate authorities regarding the theft of an ambulance from our St. Luke’s Health-Memorial Lufkin campus. The health and safety of our patients and staff is our top priority, and we will also review our internal processes and procedures.”

Pebsworth said warrants will be served on the suspect at a later time due to his injuries.