Alleged ambulance thief now faces assault charges

Adam Zaharick, who was charged with stealing an ambulance, faces charges for allegedly head-butting a correctional officer and hitting another officer

By Karen Blackledge
The Daily Item

DANVILLE, Pa. —A Kulpmont man charged with stealing an ambulance and crashing it faces seven additional charges for allegedly head-butting a correctional officer and hitting another officer with a flashlight at the Montour County Jail.

Adam R. Zaharick, 29, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Monday on new charges of aggravated and simple assault, which occurred the day after he was arrested for stealing a Sunbury ambulance from outside Geisinger's emergency department and crashing it in front of CVS Pharmacy, according to the charges.

Represented by attorney Michael Dennehy, he also waived his right to a hearing before Montour County District Judge Marvin Shrawder on the ambulance theft charges. Wearing a neck brace, he was returned to jail, where he is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail. Shrawder set bail on the latest charges on his own recognizance, District Attorney Angela Mattis said.

County Sheriff Ray Gerringer, who filed the assault charges, said Zaharick intentionally struck, punched and head-butted officer Richard Hoffman in his eye and face, shoved officer Marc Maturani and hit him with a flashlight in the head at about 8:30 p.m. Oct. 24.

Zaharick struck Hoffman while he was attempting to leave his cell area. Zaharick removed the flashlight from Maturani's duty belt, according to the charges.

Gerringer said the correctional officers were treated in Geisinger's emergency department.

The sheriff said Zaharick was wearing a neck brace related to an incident in the Columbia County Prison. Authorities did not indicate what occurred in that incident or why Zaharick was there.

Gerringer also charged him with institutional vandalism for intentionally breaking and destroying a light on the first floor, resulting in $50 in damage, and two counts each of aggravated assault, simple assault and harassment.

Zaharick, who was undergoing treatment at Geisinger's emergency room, told police he "wanted to put on a show" when he stole the Americus Hose Company ambulance and tried to "score" oxycodone from a Danville pharmacy Oct. 23.

He admitted to stealing the ambulance and stopping at CVS Pharmacy to try to steal prescription pills, police said.

Mahoning Township patrolman Ryan J. Pander said Zaharick also admitted to recklessly driving to CVS and to hitting vehicles and failing to stop at several stop signs.

Zaharick crashed the ambulance into a yellow pole or a protective baluster in front of the CVS Pharmacy, on Mill Street.

The ambulance was parked at Geisinger while the crew cleaned up from a patient drop-off moments earlier, said Bob Hare, director of operations for Americus. One of the women noticed a man getting into the driver side door, yelled at him to get out, but he did not listen. The first responders escaped through the back of the ambulance and called 911, Hare said.

Once the ambulance crashed, Zaharick entered the store and went directly to the pharmacy, hopped over the counter and demanded "oxys," Pander said. Zaharick forcefully grabbed and took possession of a medicinal item from pharmacy employee April Rodriguez, according to police. After rummaging through multiple medicinal items laid out and ready for pickup, he tried to flee the store. He was tackled by an off-duty federal corrections officer who physically restrained him until police arrived and took him into custody, according to the charges. The officer had seen what was occurring, Pander said.

No employees were hurt and nobody was injured during the crash, police said.

Zaharick had been admitted as a patient in Geisinger's emergency department and escaped after receiving medical treatment. Zaharick drove away at a high rate of speed on Center Street on the Geisinger campus. While on the campus, he struck two occupied vehicles, police said.

The first was a parked delivery truck owned by Cintas Service and was occupied by Cintas employee Dennis Wildes Jr. Wildes was in the back of the vehicle unloading a delivery at the time. The second vehicle, a van owned by Steininger III Inc., was occupied by Steininger employee Kayre Herrold, who was traveling near Pleasant Street at the time.

Zaharick continued west on Center Street at a high rate of speed and failed to stop at stop signs at Pleasant, Vine, Ferry and Mill streets, Pander said.

Pander charged him with robbery of a motor vehicle, robbery of a medicinal item from the hands of a CVS employee, burglary, theft and accidents involving damage to attended vehicles.

The patrolman said Zaharick arrived at the emergency department Oct. 22 seeking treatment for an unspecified issue. For medically necessary reasons, he remained there until the next day, he said.

Hare said the disabled ambulance, which sustained damage to the front wheel and fender, would not affect their service. He said Americus has five ambulances. Aurand's Auto Service, of Sunbury, towed the vehicle.

Copyright 2017 The Daily Item

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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