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NJ EMT charged in crash responding to fire that killed father

Police say Joseph Sims Jr. drove to scene in unofficial capacity

By EMS1 Staff

MIDDLE TOWNSHIP, N.J. — An EMT has been charged with careless driving following a collision while responding to a house fire that killed his father last month.

Joseph Sims Jr., drove an ambulance to the incident scene on Middle Township, N.J., in an unofficial capacity after learning of the fire and collided with an SUV.

The driver of the SUV was seriously hurt in the crash, while Sims Jr. and another responder in the ambulance escaped injury.

Middle Township Police Department released details of its investigation Monday following the crash on January 26.

In addition to the careless driving count, Sims Jr. has also been charged with failing to exercise due caution.

"The investigation revealed that Joseph Sims Jr. did not respond in an official capacity to the fire where his father, Joseph Sims, had subsequently passed," according to a police press release.

"The ambulance was traveling at speeds moderately above the speed limit, but not unreasonable speed for an emergency vehicle utilizing lights and sirens in an emergency response."

The driver of the SUV, Alyn Toth, has been also cited for careless driving for failing to exercise due caution when she reentered the roadway after pulling to right shoulder of U.S. 9 southbound for an emergency vehicle that had just passed.

The case remains under review at the Cape May County Prosecutors Office. After the Prosecutors Office review, the charges will either be heard in Superior Court or a local Municipal Court.

Sims Jr. is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation and an administrative investigation through the Township of Middle.

Middle Township Police Chief Christopher Leusner told The Press of Atlantic City that had Sims Jr. been responding to a fire without knowing his parents were involved, he may not have been charged.

“It would have been very clear-cut if he had been responding in an official capacity,” Chief Leusner told the newspaper.

Firefighters who responded to the house fire arrived within two minutes of the call, but were unable to rescue the EMT's father.

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