Man hit and killed by ambulance - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Man hit and killed by ambulance

May 26, 2005

Lowndes County - A mangled mess is all that's left of Phillip Phelps' Honda Civic. He died Wednesday night when his car was hit by an ambulance transporting a critical patient. "It sounded like a big boom and I saw the Honda flying into the ditch over there," said Artez Spates.

Artez Spates was stopped right across from Phelps at the intersection of Val-Del and North Valdosta Road. "I had my drivers side window down and I heard the siren clearly," said Spates.

But apparently Phelps didn't. When the light turned green, he pulled out into the intersection. "As soon as it pulled out, the ambulance hit it full speed and just tore it up," said Spates.

Spates says Phelps had the green light, but state troopers are still working to find out who was at fault.

When an ambulance or any other emergency vehicle comes to an intersection, it is the law that they stop. "They have to request the right of way and they may proceed if traffic is cleared," said Trooper David Mclemore.

And drivers are required to yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle. The problem is, we're often distracted and don't see or hear one coming. "Don't have your radio up so loud, you need to pull to the right of the road and be aware of your surroundings because there might be more coming in the same direction," said Mclemore.

After witnessing such a tragic accident, it's a lesson Spates won't soon forget. "It doesn't make a difference if you have a green light, you should take time and give yourself a couple of seconds because you never know, someone could be trying to beat traffic or an ambulance could be coming and you might not hear it," said Spates.

Because it's vital that emergency responders get to their destination quickly, but even more important that they get there safely.

The driver of the Regional EMS ambulance, 39-year-old Wyona Diego, and her two passengers weren't seriously injured in the crash.

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