Elderly Long Island Man Unhappy With Care at Hospital Checks Out, Steals Ambulance: Police

An 83-year-old Long Island man unhappy with the care he was getting at a hospital checked himself out, hopped into a running ambulance and drove it to a 7-Eleven three miles away, authorities say. 

Police say Donald Winkler of Merrick was apparently upset with the quality of care he was receiving and checked himself out of Nassau University Medical Center around 1 a.m. Tuesday. He then stole a running ambulance from the hospital parking lot and took off, police said.

Police say they later found Winkler at a 7-Eleven three miles away. Investigators say he admitted to taking the ambulance.

Winkler is facing a charge of second-degree grand larceny. It wasn't immediately known if he has an attorney. 

Neighbors say they took him to see a doctor last week because he has heart issues and was experiencing breathing troubles. Winkler's family advised him not to drive the car parked at his home, but he ignored their concerns because he cherishes his independence.

"He's not supposed to be driving," said a neighbor named Marie. "There's a car in the driveway, but his children told me they told him, do not drive. I guess he wanted to get home that bad."

She said her neighbor of over 30 years is a good man and spent many years in the military.

Winkler was arrested, taken back to the hospital and evaluated. Police arraigned him at his bed.

Authorities say the medic who left the ambulance with the keys in the ignition will be held responsible but it's not uncommon to leave the vehicle running after dropping off a patient. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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