A 45-year-old ambulette driver was drunk and high when he smashed into two utility poles at two separate accident sites while transporting a dialysis patient on Long Island Monday, authorities say.
Nassau County police say Pedro Aponte was taking the patient from a home in Queens to a treatment center shortly before 10 a.m. when he hit a utility pole on Greenwich Avenue near Nassau Road and fled the scene. As officers were responding to a call about that accident, another 911 call came in about an ambulette striking another utility pole a third of a mile away.
Fred Thomas was sitting on his porch when the ambulette came crashing into the pole.
"At first I heard a big bang, and the wires were shaking," Thomas said. "And I saw an ambulance crash into the pole right there."
Officers responding to the second scene found the ambulette heavily damaged, the utility pole fractured and Aponte lying on the ground. Aponte, who police say appeared to be intoxicated, was taken into custody and brought to a hospital for evaluation of possible additional drug use and chest pain.
The patient, a 77-year-old male, suffered rib injuries during the collisions and was taken to a hospital for treatment. He is expected to survive.
Minnet Jackson, of Roosevelt, is a health care worker. She said the incident is troubling to her.
"I'm concerned for the life we put into these people's hands," she said. "This is a sick man he's transporting — drunk. Come on now."
Aponte, who was admitted to the hospital, faces charges including driving while ability impaired (combination of alcohol/drugs), leaving the scene of an incident and reckless endangerment. Arraignment is pending, and police are waiting on results of toxicology tests.
It wasn't immediately clear if Aponte had retained an attorney.