The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local News

March 29, 2013

Police: Man charged after stealing ambulance

Five cars damaged in early-morning morning incident on Main Street

ANDERSON, Ind. — The last thing anyone in the 1700 block of Main Street expected Friday was a 4 a.m. wake-up call caused by a city ambulance crashing into their cars.

“All we heard was a big boom and everybody ran out of their houses,” said Ashley Brooks.

What they found outside was like something out of a movie chase scene. Smashed cars were strewn about, and an Anderson Fire Department ambulance was stuck in a yard, its driver still trying to make a getaway.

He didn’t, though.

Joseph L. Sandlin, 27, of Anderson was arrested after stealing an ambulance and crashing into five parked cars, according to the Anderson Police Department.

Sandlin was booked into the Madison County Jail on preliminary charges of theft of a motor vehicle, a Class C felony, OWI/drugs, a Class A misdemeanor, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, a class B misdemeanor, and operator never licensed, a class C misdemeanor. Sandlin was also wanted on a warrant out of Anderson City Court for domestic battery.  

About 4 a.m. Friday, Anderson Fire Department Medic 1 responded to a call at the Delaware Court Apartments, 120 W. 10th St. While medics were attending to their patient, Sandlin jumped into the unattended ambulance and drove it to Main Street, where he crashed into five parked cars, causing significant property damage to the ambulance and to the cars, according to APD spokesman Detective Joel Sandefur.

“My mom’s car looks like a sardine can,” Brooks said.

Dawn Wilson’s 1996 Buick Park Avenue was in mint condition and her lifeline.

“By the time he was finished with my car, it was a half-block down the street with no glass left and the tires all off it,” said the disabled Anderson resident, who relied on it to carry her to doctor appointments.

Richard Hendrickson, who lives next door to Wilson was also awakened by the crash. His car and one his girlfriend uses for work was also damaged.

“It happened so fast it was like Santa Claus on a bad morning,” Hendrickson said.

Officers responding to the call found Sandlin sitting in the driver’s seat of the ambulance.

When officers placed Sandlin into custody, they observed signs of intoxication, noted Sandefur.

Sandlin was asked if he had been drinking. He told officers that he had not been drinking, but had taken hydrocodone and several other pills, including bath salts. Sandlin was transported to a local hospital for testing.

When the arresting officer asked him why he had stolen the ambulance, Sandlin stated that “he took it because he wanted to find a police car and wreck into it so that we would shoot him,” according to a police department press release.  

Find Stu Hirsch on Facebook and @StuHirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.

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