Calif. woman steals rig, pursued by police, crashes into 2nd rig

Police initially pursued the stolen ambulance and arrested the woman after she allegedly "rammed" a different American Ambulance vehicle en route to the hospital


Anthony Galaviz
The Fresno Bee

VISALIA, Calif. — A woman is accused of stealing an ambulance in a central San Joaquin Valley city, triggering a police chase that ended with a multi-vehicle crash involving another ambulance, an officer injured and downtown traffic scrambled.

Visalia Police said they initially went to the 700 block of East Noble Avenue at 3:30 p.m. Monday after EMS personnel at a medical aid call requested assistance.

Mariah Chaffin was to be booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, pursuit, possession of a stolen vehicle and resisting arrest after being cleared at the hospital.
Mariah Chaffin was to be booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, pursuit, possession of a stolen vehicle and resisting arrest after being cleared at the hospital. (Photo/Visalia Police Department)

Arriving officers were told that the woman had driven away in the American Ambulance vehicle that had been left with the engine running, according to a Visalia Police Department news release. It was unclear from the release whether the woman was connected to the original aid call.

An officer spotted the ambulance — its lights flashing and siren sounding — and the pursuit ensued. It ended at West Acequia Avenue and South Locust Street, police said, after the woman "rammed" a different American Ambulance taking a patient to the hospital and also struck a marked police car.

Drivers were encouraged to avoid the area, with multiple roads closed downtown as the investigation continued.

The woman was arrested and taken to Kaweah Health Medical Center.

She was identified later Monday as 38-year-old Mariah Chaffin. She was to be booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, pursuit, possession of a stolen vehicle and resisting arrest after being cleared at the hospital.

An officer went to the hospital for what were described as non-life threatening injuries suffered in the collision.

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(c)2021 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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