EMSA driver charged in fatal crash fired

An EMSA ambulance driver facing charges in a fatal traffic accident has driving infractions in the past, including for driving under the influence.
By BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Modified: December 20, 2011 at 6:22 pm •  Published: December 20, 2011

An ambulance service has fired a driver who got into a fatal traffic accident during an emergency call, the man's attorney said Tuesday.

Benjamin Ward Samples, 36, who was charged with misdemeanor negligent homicide Monday in Oklahoma County, has a history of driving infractions including driving under the influence, according to court records.

Samples pleaded guilty on May 5, 2003, to charges of driving while under the influence, speeding, changing lanes unsafely and transporting an open container of alcohol.

He also pleaded guilty to speeding in 2005. EMSA's requirements for employment include a clear criminal and traffic record, but EMSA officials said Tuesday Samples cleared a background check and was approved by EMSA's insurance company when he was hired in February.

Samples' attorney, Ed Blau, said Tuesday his client was following established rules, a claim disputed by the Emergency Medical Services Authority.

“EMSA, rather than standing by a dedicated employee, Mr. Samples, they chose to throw him out on the street rather than deal with any more negative publicity,” Blau said. “They terminated a dedicated, hardworking employee that was following the rules but was unfortunately involved in a tragic accident.”

Samples, an emergency medical technician, was driving an ambulance Dec. 10 in Oklahoma City when his emergency vehicle collided with a Toyota Scion making a left turn. The driver of the Scion, Fidel Mesa-Solis, was killed in the accident.

Police and court records indicate Samples was going 83 mph in a 40 mph zone at the time of the accident and was driving left of center.

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