TAMPA — An ambulance heading east on Busch Boulevard swerved to avoid cars that stopped abruptly ahead of it, veered into oncoming traffic and smashed almost head-on into a Ford F-150 pickup, Tampa police said Monday.
The accident happened about 9:30 p.m. The force of the collision caved in the front of the truck, pinning the driver, Jerry Hager, 64, of Temple Terrace, inside. Emergency personnel had to extract him from the wreckage by cutting through the roof.
Hager had been driving his two grandsons back from a Boy Scout meeting, according to Tally Vickory of Tampa, the injured man's son-in-law.
Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Bill Wade said the two young Scouts had injuries that weren't life-threatening. As for Hager, Wade said his legs had been pinned badly in the truck.
As he was being pulled from the wreck Hager was alert, but appeared to be in pain while he was loaded onto a stretcher to be taken to St. Joseph's Hospital.
Wade said injuries in the ambulance crew ranged from minor to none. He said the ambulance workers immediately leaped out and rushed to the aid of Hager and the boys.
"Even before the dust settled, they were out of the ambulance," Wade said. "They could see he was trapped and hurt."
Wade said they had no patient on board. The ambulance was not using the siren before the wreck, and was traveling in a routine manner. There were two emergency medical workers inside, along with a student in back, he said.
Tampa police Sgt. C. Leistl said the ambulance, from American Medical Response, had been heading to a call, and was going toward Interstate 275. The driver would be cited for the accident, Leistl said, but he did not specify the charge.
Police did not release the names of the people on board the ambulance.
Vickory said Hager called his wife while he was pinned inside the truck to tell her what had happened.
Vickory and three other family members converged at the scene and watched the rescue operation.
As half a dozen Tampa Fire Rescue workers ripped the top of the truck off and finally broke Hager free, Vickory yelled "He's out," and they rushed to see him, following as he was taken to the ambulance.
Some drove on to the hospital where the grandfather and the two boys were being treated. A few minutes later, Vickory spoke with his wife about his father-in-law's condition.
"Bad," she said.
As the police and emergency crews continued to sort out what happened, Vickory went to the smashed truck and began unloading its contents, securing archery gear, backpacks, a cooler and other equipment safely in his car before driving away.