A man suspected of driving under the influence was arrested Monday after he stole a medical transport van parked in front of a hospital in Hillcrest, taking off with two elderly patients still inside.
San Diego Police Department (SDPD) Sgt. Jordan Wells said the van – an American Medical Response (AMR) shuttle – was transporting three elderly patients. Just before 6:20 p.m., the driver of the van stopped at Scripps Mercy Hospital on 5th Avenue to drop off one of the patients.
While escorting the patient into the hospital, the driver left the van’s engine running.
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Police said that’s when suspect Saeed Salmeron-Cervantes, 31, hopped into the driver’s seat of the van and took off. As the driver came back outside, he saw the suspect speeding away in the stolen van.
The driver called 911.
Using GPS, officers were able to locate the stolen van at 4th Avenue and Walnut Street, where Salmeron-Cervantes was trying to drop off the other two elderly patients.
Salmeron-Cervantes was arrested; the patients were not hurt, police said.
Salmeron-Cervantes was booked into jail on charges of stealing a vehicle, kidnapping and DUI. The investigation is ongoing; anyone with information on this case can call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.
A spokesperson with AMR said the company will not be commenting on the case, but Claudia Cardenas, IFT Operations Manager for AMR did release this statement to NBC 7:
“AMR takes this matter very seriously. We have a long history in San Diego County of providing a safe environment and high quality care to our patients. In light of what happened yesterday, we are conducting an investigation to ensure this never happens again.”