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Home > Topics > Ambulances / Emergency Vehicles

Wis. woman dies after banging head in ambulance

The 85-year-old woman was with her husband in an ambulance when it made a sudden stop, causing a fatal injury

By EMS1 Staff

MADISON, Wisc. — An 85-year-old woman died after she hit her head in an ambulance that slammed on the brakes while taking her husband to a hospice.

Laurel Huibregtse died at the University of Wisconsin Hospital just hours before her husband died at the hospice home he was being transported to on Tuesday, according to WTAQ.

Police say the ambulance suddenly hit the brakes to avoid a vehicle that was stopped behind another vehicle that was waiting to make a U-turn.

Although the ambulance didn't hit the vehicle, the sudden braking caused Huibregtse to slide off her seat in the back of the ambulance and bang her head.

The medics were not injured and no criminal charges are expected to be filed, authorities calling it a "tragic accident."

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Don Snorek Don Snorek Thursday, November 29, 2012 5:25:33 PM That's why family members ride in the cab wth a seatbelt, not sitting on a squad bench. If they ride in the ambulance at all.
Anne Krippner Akers Falaschi Anne Krippner Akers Falaschi Thursday, November 29, 2012 5:37:53 PM I agree with Don Snorek! Not only is it better safety-wise thereby avoiding this "tragic accident" but family members or loved one's tend to interfere with the care of the patient!
Terry Dopp Terry Dopp Thursday, November 29, 2012 5:40:17 PM Only time family rides in back is with their kids. and they are five point harnessed.
Robert Gift Robert Gift Thursday, November 29, 2012 5:44:21 PM Why not in cab passenger seat in seat-belt and shoulder harness? If she must be with her husband, does the back bench seat not have seat-belts?
Ted Sharpe Ted Sharpe Thursday, November 29, 2012 5:48:14 PM have you ever thought about predestination?
Robert Gift Robert Gift Thursday, November 29, 2012 5:50:36 PM ^ No such thing as "predestination" unless you have GPS.
Katrina Armanda Nadeau Katrina Armanda Nadeau Thursday, November 29, 2012 5:55:39 PM no family unless it's a minor in back,, and one parent is in seat belt out front.. or the wheels don't turn,,, unless there was somekind of 100 patient call,, then that would be differnt.. why take a chance.
Joshua Choate Joshua Choate Thursday, November 29, 2012 6:19:03 PM There no a thing wrong with the wife of a man going home to die making the final trip with him in the back. Any person that would not let her ride is a poor excuse of a medic. All ways make them wear thee seat belt all bench seats have them.
Jamie Jordan Jamie Jordan Thursday, November 29, 2012 6:38:30 PM only patients and medics are allowed in the back of the ambulance. She should have been in the front with a seatbelt on. It's her own doing and NOT the squad crew's fault.
Jamie Jordan Jamie Jordan Thursday, November 29, 2012 6:40:05 PM poor excuse of a medic?? Really? There's something wrong with you--like a poor excuse of a human being. Blaming the medics for the crazy woman not sitting where she was supposed to? Bull.
Melinda Teaster Williams Melinda Teaster Williams Thursday, November 29, 2012 6:59:17 PM Holly crap batman.....Wth was a Family member riding in the back of the ambulance anyway? and if you did let them ride why was she not in the capt. seat belted in? lord be with all involved.
Melinda Teaster Williams Melinda Teaster Williams Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:07:07 PM Joshua I do agree that the wife should be allowed to ride, However I do not agree that she be seated on the bench sit. if the breaking was hard enough to throw her into the wheel well then just being seated sideways with a poor accuse of a seat belt the bench seat provides would not have provide much protection. nothing wrong with her riding she just should have been belted in the front or in the capt. seat. To have to explain to this Family that were are sorry your Mom died as well as your dad, but she got to ride with him to the Hospice center....Really. I hope that for the crew involved nothing comes of this but common sence people, SAFTEY for Everyone.
Terry Dopp Terry Dopp Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:17:30 PM Don't blame the dead 85 year old. The crew know's how to safely transport a family member and most services have policies regarding this. 99% of the family members that want to ride along automatically try to jump in the back, it's our job to tell them to get in the front and make sure they are belted in.
Patty Slocumb Patty Slocumb Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:28:53 PM And what if you have to intubate or deliberate with her right beside you? That is not something somebody should ever have as a last memory. And as you know of you've been in the field for very long, things don't always go by the book when performing these procedures. What if he vomits when you intubate and she gets sick or suddenly develops chest pain? Now you have two patients. What if she's restrained in the back but gets hit by equipment flying off of a shelf during evasive action? There are a million reasons not to allow family in back unless its a child or you need a translator in an urgent situation. Your idea of a poor medic needs to be reevaluated.
Robert O'Connor Robert O'Connor Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:29:52 PM Driver is responsible for passengers safety, he should of checked and assured she was belted in, if rig is not equipped with seat belts at every seat that rig should be put out of service till it is corrected.. also sounds like the driver was going too fast for conditions.... giving wife a ride was the right thing to do!, it was just executed wrong... plus shit happens....
Patty Slocumb Patty Slocumb Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:30:39 PM *defibrillate
Roxy McQueen Haag Roxy McQueen Haag Thursday, November 29, 2012 7:49:24 PM should have been in the front of the squad and seatbelted in. I really hope the medics aren't charged with anything.
Gabriela Decker Gabriela Decker Thursday, November 29, 2012 8:19:53 PM In this situation I think the wife should have been in front. Should her husband die, I would have pulled over and allowed her to spend a few moments with him before going to our final destination, and even then, she would be up front. No one can change the past, but this is what I have done and will continue to do.
Steve Jacobi Steve Jacobi Thursday, November 29, 2012 9:05:12 PM Patty Slocumb Why would you intubate or defibrilate a hospice patient? Sometimes you must decide what is best for the patient and the family. This is especially true for kids and elderly who might be dying. Allowing a family member to stay with them as they die is closure. BUT, always remember safety and secure the passenger. EMS is scary bad for this even for our own safety. Many in EMS lose their lives because they are unrestrained even when they are not working on a patient. And, if a patient and their family have accepted hospice, DO NOT intubate or defibrilate just because you can not accept death. The patient and family have accepted it and you should RESPECT their wishes for death without heroic interventions on a terminally ill patient.
Ted Sharpe Ted Sharpe Thursday, November 29, 2012 9:18:20 PM yeah,and the world is flat..
Steve Jacobi Steve Jacobi Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:16:11 PM Patty Slocumb: Why would you want to intubate or defibrilate a hospice patient? You should respect the decisions this patient and his family have made for you end of life with a terminal illness. Sometimes you do have to make a judgement to have family in the back. This could be with a child or with an elderly patient who may not want to die without his loved one next to his side. But, safety should always be considered. Securing people in the back is often something that does not come easily for many in EMS since they do not secure themselves while in the back. This has led to the death of many in EMS also.
Steve Jacobi Steve Jacobi Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:20:59 PM Kinda selfish of some who do not want a dying man to have his wife beside himself. A passenger can easily ride in the back if belted in. But, most in EMS fail to secure themselves in the back so few would ever think about it and probably have transported many passengers in the back without securing them. This includes others in EMS, Fire, Police or students. This is a failing in safety education by EMS as a whole and not just one Paramedic. It is hard to scream blame when many here are probably guilty of not be secured in the back everyday.
Melissa Tiede Hyde Melissa Tiede Hyde Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:25:32 PM He was a hospice patient. Had he passed they wouldn't have intubated, or defibrillated, he was a DNR, they wouldn't have even started CPR. Her last memory should have been "all I wanted was to hold my dear husbands hand one last time, and the damn EMT's wouldn't let me"? Freak accidents happen, had she been in the front seat, the seatbelt may have damaged her heart, or she may have coded in the front when the rig slammed on his breaks. Or she may have been turned in the seat to watch her hubby and hurt/broke her neck, or they could have told her no, take her own vehicle, and she would have been following behind the rig and rear-ended it killing her. I would have to go with making a husband and wife's last moments together happy, belt her in the captain seat, and let them share a few final moments together.
Robert Hodge Robert Hodge Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:30:25 PM Nothing wrong with letting a family member ride in the back routine traffic with a dying relative going to hospice. The argument about intubating and defib is pretty moot since 99.9% of Pts we transport to hospice area DNR. It is however, our responsibility to maintain a safe environment for them. Seat-belted in the Captain chair or on the bench next to the cargo net would be the appropriate way to accomplish this. There is such a thing as treating the family as well as the Pt in these circumstances. This is one of those issues that we need to think about. The decision to let someone ride in the back, for any reason, is up to the medic that will be in the back with them. He has to be comfortable with the situation and the extra responsibility. This was a tragic event and I hope that everyone involved and the family are doing ok mentally and physically.
Bennie Richards-Baxter Bennie Richards-Baxter Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:54:43 PM Should of and could of is too late now. Let's pray that everyone involved in this finds some closure in this tragic incident. From the driver, medic, family and agency. It was a tragic incident and hindsite is 20/20.
Cole Gravel Cole Gravel Friday, November 30, 2012 12:36:02 AM Iit makes sense to allow a spouse to be close to a loved one as they die - I don't believe there is anything wrong with letting them in the back. However, that rider in the back should have had the correct seat-belt on.... The "Capt's chair" probably would have also been a better option as well. Stuff happens, tragic accident - but I can almost bet the EMS professional in the back was only trying to make a sad situation a little better for someone which is important not to forget. Now we can all learn from this and ensure (or continue to ensure) our riders are safe. I hope the EMS crew is able to recover from this tragic accident.
Mike Ledgerwood Mike Ledgerwood Friday, November 30, 2012 1:29:40 AM I don't really care if family rides in back with me if they have a use for patient care (i.e. translating or are a parent). If they ride in back they ride the captains chair and are belted. Anyone else goes up front.
Mike Ledgerwood Mike Ledgerwood Friday, November 30, 2012 1:38:09 AM Patient was going to Hospice...he isn't going to be Intubated. DNR / POLST would see to that. You can what if all you want, bottom line is you need to do what is best for patient care. In this case the patient was going on his final ride. I am not going to deny a spouse their final opportunity to ride with their loved one if they are going to Hospice. Worst case, they crash on me. Then we follow the DNR / POLST which most likely is going to say we do nothing other than comfort care. She knew the risks and accepted them. If you got flying equipment, you got other problems. Equipment should be secured. If you have that much equipment flying you shouldn't have any patient back there. There is nothing that important that you can't take a few seconds to secure equipment. The only exception being the monitor / AED if its being used.
Rick L. Davisson Rick L. Davisson Friday, November 30, 2012 2:31:43 AM Everybody is an expert after the fact!
Susie Bologna Susie Bologna Friday, November 30, 2012 4:30:06 AM Why wasn't her seat belt secured on her. I alway had my accompanying quest have their seat belt on other wise I wasn't moving. I'm just as responsible for the quest as well as the patient. NYC has this stipulation in transporting a patient.
Mark Oribello Mark Oribello Friday, November 30, 2012 4:59:24 AM I would assume that if it's a trip home from hospice that they have a DNR and it's a no-intubate patient. I agree with Joshua that giving the wife that time with her husband was the right thing to do - patient care doesn't start and stop at intubation or cardioversion - but she should have been wearing a seat belt. Most family members are pretty understanding when you tell them that they have to for "insurance reasons", particularly they see you belt in. As far as back-vs-front, that's an easy decision: "What's best for the patient?". We all seem to be in general agreement that we belt mom or dad in the back to keep junior calm (with certain exceptions such as a helicopter parent who'd get in the way of care) - how about a non compos mentis patient? I've let parents of adult patients with severe mental disabilities ride in the back (again, belted in). What about alzheimer's patients who only recognize a close family member? Every situation needs to be individually evaluated for safety and patient benefit.
Marcia Bredeson Marcia Bredeson Friday, November 30, 2012 5:12:23 AM EVERYONE should be wearing their seatbelt. That's why we have them in all seats.
Alan W. Rose Alan W. Rose Friday, November 30, 2012 7:36:25 AM Failing to use seatbelts, especially for family members, is not an "accident" although it sure is negligently "tragic."
Paul Clark Paul Clark Friday, November 30, 2012 10:51:17 AM He was a Hospice pt. he was going to die, I doubt there would have been any intubation going on.
Joseph Hebert Joseph Hebert Friday, November 30, 2012 11:30:35 AM There is something wrong with family in the patient compartment. If the patient's condition is serious enough where their condition will decline, then the family members should not be this close to the treatment area in an already cramped patient compartment. Every time someone has surgery, there is a chance the patient could die, yet family members do not go into surgery with them.
Steve Jacobi Steve Jacobi Friday, November 30, 2012 12:22:15 PM Yet hospitals have allowed families to be in the room during a code for over the past 20 years. Family member are not in the actual surgical room because of infection control. But, some hospitals have allowed them observe if there is a viewing area. You clearly have not kept up to date with how medicine has evolved over the past few decades. The big difference is EMS has not been adequately educated to deal with families during stressful situations.
Chris Mancuso Chris Mancuso Friday, November 30, 2012 9:07:56 PM All persons shall wear seatbelts anytime the vehicle is in motion.
Wayland Slater Wayland Slater Saturday, December 01, 2012 1:05:08 PM Any civilian in the back, for whatever reason, must be strapped in. As I look at all the responses pro and con on why to have someone in back, there was one situation not mentioned. Maybe it's the "old school", but to have a female minor with an all male crew it's good to try to find another female to at least ride up front. Case in point. Had a female student go down on the school bus. I made sure to find a female school rep. ride with us. At the time there had been at least three complaints made toward male EMT's alone in back with a young girl/ woman.
Teresa Fairfield Teresa Fairfield Saturday, December 01, 2012 5:24:09 PM He was going to hospice...there weren't going to be any invasive the article...
Joshua Choate Joshua Choate Sunday, December 02, 2012 8:03:43 PM patty i have been doing this a long time. I have let loved ones make the final ride with there wife or husband ,mother ,father ,brother ,sister to hospice and at the end of the day i know they got to spend a few more min with that loved one that they would have lost had i been heart less and not let them ride.
Sean Ketron Sean Ketron Sunday, December 02, 2012 9:49:53 PM Patty Slocumb maybe you should google hospice?
Kevin Heurtin Kevin Heurtin Wednesday, December 05, 2012 10:44:38 AM hey patty he was a hospice pt no need to intubate
Michael J Carson Michael J Carson Thursday, December 20, 2012 11:52:06 PM It is our policy here that any riders ride in the cab with a seatbelt. The only exception is in a small pediatric patient the mother can ride in the back, but she is normally seatbelted in the airway seat.

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