A medical escort was killed when the ambulette she used to transport disabled people rolled on top of her after she fell out of it while it was in reverse, police said.
Irene Espinal-Jiminian, 37, was pinned by the ambulette near 229th Street in the Bronx on Wednesday morning, according to police.
She had been unloading a disabled man at the time and had put the ambulette in reverse to reposition it, police said.
But as the vehicle was reversing, she but fell out of the driver's seat onto the pavement and the driver's side tire rolled over her. She became pinned underneath the ambulette, a 2011 Ford van, police said. (The street is on a slope and that may have been a factor in her becoming pinned.)
Police initially said they were looking for a hit-and-run driver who they believed struck the ambulette, causing it to roll onto the woman, but further investigation revealed the incident to be a tragic accident.
Neighbors remember hearing a loud bang.
“I heard the impact, the impact is what brought be to the window,” Natasha Lewis said. “I didn’t even realize she was underneath the car, until my niece said, ‘She’s underneath the car.’ When I came out it was rolling slowly back, but she was already underneath the car.”
Lewis described the horrific sight of seeing a woman trapped beneath the ambulette. “From face to shoulder was underneath the car,” she said.
Cellphone video of the aftermath shows emergency responders at the scene. At one point, people had tried to use bricks to prop up the ambulette so that Espinal-Jiminian could be rescued.
Espinal-Jiminian had been working for IAHD, a company that provides services and support for disabled people and their families, for less than a year. She had been transporting patients to and from Montefiore Medical Center at the time of the accident.
She was pronounced dead at that same hospital. It’s believed the man who was being escorted by her was not injured.
In a statement, IAHD Managing Director Kerry Brady sent condolences to Espinal-Jiminian's family and said the company was awaiting the results of a police investigation.
“We are very saddened to learn of the death of a cherished member of the IAHD family,” Brady said in the statement.