FILLMORE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Police say three people, including two paramedics, were injured when a suspected drunk driver hit an ambulance south of Holland early Sunday.
The crash happened around 4:30 a.m. on Blue Star Highway near 141st Avenue in Allegan County’s Fillmore Township.
According to a release from the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office, a pickup truck traveling southbound on Blue Star Highway crossed the center line and hit a northbound AMR ambulance. Police say the driver of the pickup truck appeared to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.
AMR identified the paramedic crew as Kevin Jongekryg and Tim Hoffman. Jongekryg was driving the ambulance at the time of the crash and Hoffman was riding in the back and did not have a seat belt on, officials said.
Both of the men were injured in the crash and were taken by ambulance to Holland Hospital; however, once stabilized Hoffman was then transported to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids for a head injury. Hospital officials said Hoffman is in critical condition and Jongekryg is listed in stable condition.
“The crews of ours that responded this morning, it’s a very difficult and traumatic experience for them to respond to friends and coworkers,” said Patrick Lickiss, an AMR paramedic and its manager of clinical and education services.
The driver of the pickup truck was also injured and taken to Holland Hospital before being moved to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital. Police said the truck driver is in serious but stable condition.
Authorities said no one was being transported in the ambulance at the time of the crash.
A spokesperson for AMR told 24 Hour News 8 the two paramedics started their shift about a half hour before the crash and were moving post locations in Allegan County when the ambulance was hit.
Before emergency crews arrived on scene, police said witnesses were able to quickly extinguish a small fire in the engine area.
Jongekryg is a 23-year veteran with AMR and Hoffman has served for 11 years. AMR says both paramedics have served in multiple roles with the company. Lickiss described the two as caring and giving men.
“I think one of the things that for better or worse kind of unites EMS, is the realization that we are placed at risk,” Lickiss said.
AMR says there are seat belts in the back of the ambulance, but it’s not always possible for paramedics to wear them when caring for a patient. However when there is not a patient, it is best practice to wear a seat belt.
“People can see themselves potentially being in a situation like our folks were today — both those who work here and those who work elsewhere,” Lickiss said.
Police say the pickup driver’s name will not be released pending a review from the prosecutor’s office regarding possible charges.
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–24 Hour News 8’s Sarah Hurwitz contributed to this report.