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'Someone could have been killed': Tire flies into Cetronia Ambulance in Allentown - Pennsylvania


Friday, March 11, 2016 By 

ALLENTOWN — A tire, believed to have been intentionally rolled down an Allentown hill, smashed into the windshield of a passing Cetronia Ambulance on Thursday afternoon on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, city police said.

No one was hurt, but the bashed-in windshield took the ambulance out of service. Police talked with witnesses who reported seeing a few people with the tire shortly before the 3:30 p.m. incident.

Police Capt. Stephen Vangelo said the ambulance was westbound on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, west of 10th Street, when the tire came down the steep hill.

"A tire was flung down the hill from Spring Garden Street onto MLK, striking the ambulance," he said. "No one was injured, thank goodness."

The ambulance was carrying a paramedic and two emergency medical technicians, but had no patient, officials said. Two Cetronia crew members were sitting up front, the third in the back.

The impact dented, split and splintered the windshield, crunched the roof of the ambulance cab and sprayed tiny pieces of glass into the cab.

Larry Wiersch, CEO of Cetronia Ambulance, said the tire pushed the windshield back a full foot, but did not enter the ambulance cab. He said it could have been much worse.

"Had they been driving a little faster, and had that tire come through and entered the cab, it probably would have killed both of the crew members who were in the front," Wiersch said.

"And my understanding is, it narrowly missed a woman who was doing something at her car alongside the road. She had to jump out of the way. It could have killed her."

The ambulance was going back to its station after a run when the tire flew into its path, he said.

"They were just chatting and all of a sudden it was just, bang! You didn't have time to react," he said. "The crew was pretty shaken up, but they managed to pull over safely."

Police later showed the crew where the tire came down the hill through the brush.

"It appears that somebody purposely rolled the tire down the hill," Wiersch said. "Whether their intent was to hit the ambulance, I doubt it but who knows? I hope they catch the people who were involved."

Vangelo said witnesses were being helpful to the police investigation.

"There were three people [other than the ambulance workers] who did see the tire coming down the hill," he said. "They saw a group of people [at the top of the hill], but we don't have a good description at this time."

Stretchers and medical equipment from the damaged ambulance later were moved to a backup ambulance that was sent to the scene.

Vangelo said it was an unusual incident.

"This is the first time I can remember a tire being sent down a hill and hitting something" in Allentown, he said.

After reading about the Cetronia incident, a Macungie woman told The Morning Call that at 3:45 p.m. Saturday "a stocky man" rolled a tire down the same hill at her car. She said she stopped just in time.

The woman said she looked up the hill and saw the man standing behind a guardrail. She thought about driving up to him, but then thought twice and went home.

Wiersch said the damaged Cetronia ambulance will be out of service for at least two weeks.

"Anytime you lose an emergency services vehicle it is a very unfortunate thing," he said.

He said repairs will cost at least a few thousand dollars, and the cost could be higher if more damage turns up on closer inspection. 

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