Pa. ambulance crash victim sues EMT, city

He alleges the EMT driving the ambulance was negligent for not yielding when making a left turn at a green light and hitting his pickup truck


By Liz Hayes
The Valley News-Dispatch

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — The victim of a March 2013 vehicle accident involving a New Kensington ambulance has sued the city and the ambulance driver.

Dana E. Stiller of Penn Hills recently filed the suit in Westmoreland County Court alleging negligence on the part of New Kensington Ambulance Service driver Cheree Grillo, 39, of Lower Burrell during the March 4 crash in Harrison.

Harrison police said the ambulance did not have its emergency lights activated when Grillo attempted to turn left from Freeport Road onto Alabama Avenue and steered into the path of Stiller's oncoming pickup.

The intersection has a left-turn lane that offers a green arrow, then permits left turns on a steady green light as long as drivers yield to oncoming traffic.

Police said the signal was on a steady green light, not a green arrow, when Grillo turned.

Police said paramedic Amie Shank and a patient were aboard the ambulance, which was on its way to Allegheny Valley Hospital. Everyone involved suffered at least minor injuries, and both vehicles were totaled, police said at the time of the crash.

Neither driver was charged, according to court documents.

In the lawsuit, Stiller says he suffered a concussion, a strained neck and back, an injured right hand and various other pains, bruises and abrasions. He claims to be permanently disfigured, to have suffered from post-traumatic symptoms and to have experienced financial difficulties because of the accident.

His wife, Joanne M. Stiller, is named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit; she claims financial damages as well as the deprivation of her husband's companionship and assistance.

The Stillers ask Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. to find Grillo negligent for driving at an “excessive and dangerous rate of speed,” not yielding the right of way to Stiller and not using emergency lights, sirens, a horn or any other signal to warn Stiller.

Grillo and the City of New Kensington are named as defendants; the ambulance service is not named in the suit.

Grillo could not be reached for comment late Wednesday afternoon, nor could a supervisor for the ambulance company.

New Kensington City Clerk Dennis Scarpiniti said the city is named in the suit because it provides the automobile insurance for the ambulance service and, as a result, technically owns the ambulances.

Scarpiniti said the insurance arrangement was put in place when the company was a volunteer organization; the same arrangement applies to fire department vehicles.

Now that it's a paid ambulance service, the city is working with the ambulance company to remove the service's equipment from the city's insurance.

City officials said Grillo is not a city employee, as is claimed in the lawsuit.

Scarpiniti and Mayor Tom Guzzo declined to comment on the claims made in the lawsuit.

Scarpiniti said the city's insurance company has hired attorneys Christian D. Marquis and April L. Cressler to defend the city and Grillo.

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©2015 The Valley News-Dispatch (Tarentum, Pa.)

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