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3 Dead as SUV Strikes Ambulance at 100 mph

3 Dead as SUV Strikes Ambulance at 100 mph

The accident destroyed the ambulance. (WTOP Photo/Neal Augenstein)

Neal Augenstein |

September 16, 2010

DISTRICT HEIGHTS, Md. – Three men are dead and two medics safe after a fast-moving sport utility vehicle traveling in the wrong lane sideswipes an ambulance early Thursday.

“An eyewitness indicated [the SUV] could have been going as fast as 100 mph,” says Mark E. Brady, spokesman for Prince George’s County Fire and EMS.

“I shudder to think what would have happened if this had been a head-on collision looking at the damage from a sideswipe,” Brady tells WTOP.

“The patient compartment area is obliterated, even from a side swipe.”

At the time of the accident, which was just after midnight, Ambulance 826 had just been dispatched to an overdose call, with its lights on and siren blaring.

The Marlboro Pike accident occurred just a few blocks from the District Heights fire station. Marlboro Pike is a four-lane road that’s marked with a double yellow line.

The ambulance’s dashboard camera indicates the ambulance was going 35 mph. The driver brakes to 10 mph as the medics see what’s ahead.

“They saw a vehicle traveling at an extremely high rate of speed. The vehicle was coming directly at them,” Brady said.

“You see a set of headlights that appear to be coming directly at the ambulance.”

Brady says the ambulance driver swerved to avoid a head-on crash.

The accident happened in the 5600 block of Marlboro Pike. The GMC Suburban SUV that struck the ambulance was travelling eastbound in the westbound lanes.

After the SUV sideswipes the ambulance, it strikes a brick wall and utility pole before landing on its roof about 120 feet from where it hit the ambulance.

“Initial indication is it’s going to be driver error,” says Prince George’s County Police spokesman Cpl. Henry Tippet.

Officials pronounced the three men in the SUV at the scene. Police have not released their identities yet.

The two medics did not appear to have suffered any injuries, but they were taken to the hospital to be checked out.

The ambulance’s patient area sustained what Brady describes as “catastrophic destruction.” The entire right side of the patient compartment was torn off.

He says the ambulance’s dashboard camera indicates that another vehicle was behind the SUV but in the correct travel lanes. That vehicle was flicking its lights. Brady says that other driver may have been trying to let the SUV driver know he was going the wrong way or may have been warning the ambulance.

WTOP’s Mike Jakaitis and Neal Augenstein contributed to this article. Follow Neal on Twitter.

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