A New York City emergency medical technician was killed Thursday when a man seized the ambulance that she was driving and then fatally struck her, authorities said.
Authorities did not identify the suspect, a 25-year-old man, who was in police custody Thursday night.
“An EMT was 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 at the Jacobi Medical Center, where the paramedic was pronounced dead.
“They should not ever have to be subjected to violence, and yet that danger always exists for them,” he said.
The 44-year-old paramedic killed was a mother of five and a 14-year veteran of the New York Fire Department, de Blasio said. Although he did not identify her, the fire department later said via Twitter that she was Yadira Arroyo.
Daniel A. Nigro, the fire department commissioner, said that she was the eighth member of the New York emergency medical services and only the third female employee to be killed in the line of duty.
Arroyo had been driving the ambulance through the Bronx, with another female EMT in the passenger seat, when a passerby flagged down the ambulance about 7 p.m. and told them a man was riding on the rear bumper.
Both Arroyo and the EMT exited the ambulance, Nigro said. Arroyo, who left the ambulance door open, was approaching the man when he moved around her and entered the vehicle.
The EMTs attempted to regain control of the vehicle, grabbing at it as he tried to drive away. The man threw the ambulance into reverse, officials said, injuring the second EMT. Arroyo slipped beneath the ambulance wheels and was killed.
“I was coming from the street, up to the red light and I just saw the ambulance, the sirens and lights, and I told my brother ‘Look something’s happening,’ and then somebody just hopped in, and then he hit two cars and ran over the person,” Justin Lopez, 20, a witness who shot video of the incident, told the New York Daily News. “I realized he was hijacking the car.”
The hijacker drove over a sidewalk and crashed the ambulance into cars parked along the street. A K-9 officer aided by several civilians seized the man, the mayor said.
A nearby woman, Nancy Montavo, told the Daily News that the second paramedic was devastated. “She was screaming ‘my partner, my partner.’ She was screaming hysterically. I can’t forget her screaming,” Montavo said. “All the police came running and they put her in an ambulance.” The other EMT suffered minor injuries.
“We lost a good woman,” de Blasio said. “She started her shift today like every other day, and then a senseless act of violence takes her life.”
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Ben Guarino