SOS: Driver who hit ambulance got license back Monday

An undated photo of Shirley Stokes.


BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The driver who was killed after hitting an ambulance early Tuesday had her license reinstated Monday after having it suspended in 2009, according to the Secretary of State.

Battle Creek police said a LifeCare Ambulance was traveling north on North Avenue with running lights and the siren going with a cardiac arrest patient in the back. A westbound passenger vehicle on Garfield ran the flashing red light and hit the ambulance around 1 a.m. about three blocks away from Battle Creek Bronson Hospital.

The driver of the passenger vehicle, 61-year-old Shirley Ann Stokes, was killed on impact. Her passenger, 54-year-old James Earl Stokes, died on scene, according to police.

The patient, 74-year-old David Lynn Simpson, was transferred to another ambulance and taken to Bronson Battle Creek Hospital emergency room, where he died moments later.

His wife Beverly Simpson said that when she was informed of her husband’s death, she was not told that something had gone wrong during the ambulance’s trip to the hospital.

“Why didn’t somebody tell us or tell me that he was in that ambulance?” Simpson questioned. “To think that he was in that ambulance, and whether he could have been saved, I don’t know. That’s another thing: Could he have been saved?”

Courtesy photo of David Simpson.
(Courtesy photo of David Simpson.)

Police say a mishap communication is to blame for Simpson not being informed of the crash. They were told she had been notified of the death at the hospital and didn’t realize she was not told about the crash.

Simpson said she and her husband of 30 years “did everything together.”

“I don’t know how to explain him. He was Dave,” Simpson said.

They had a small argument on Monday, she said, but settled everything before going to bed.

“He said, ‘I’m sorry I yelled at you today.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m sorry I yelled at you, too.’ And off we went to sleep,” Simpson recalled.

Mark Devriendt, an apparent Battle Creek firefighter who was injured in the crash, wrote the following statement on his Facebook page:

“I would like to thank my fellow firefighters, life care ambulance personnel and supervisor, My Fire Chief and Battalion Chief and our police officers for your support early this morning. We all made it out OK with some bumps and bruises but we’re OK. Thank you all so much.”

The Battle Creek Police Department accident reconstruction team was called to the scene to take over the investigation.

Police said speed and alcohol may have played a role in the crash.

“It makes me angry,” Beverly Simpson said.

The at-fault driver, Shirley Stokes, had a number of violations on her driving record, but none appear to have involved alcohol. Her license had been suspended since 2009 before being reinstated on Monday, according to the Secretary of  State’s Office.

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