An EMSA emergency medical technician has been charged with negligent homicide after investigators said his reckless driving of an ambulance caused a wreck that killed a man on NW 10 near May Avenue.
Benjamin Ward Samples, 36, was driving the ambulance Dec. 10 on an emergency call and had activated the vehicle's lights and sirens. He was driving 83 mph in the wrong direction on NW 10 when the accident occurred about 10:30 a.m., according to court and police records.
The ambulance was going east on NW 10 when it veered into the empty oncoming lanes to get around cars in both eastbound lanes. Fidel Mesa-Solis, 43, was in the left eastbound lane trying to turn left into a parking lot, and his car was hit in the driver's side by the speeding ambulance. Mesa-Solis died at the scene.
Court documents use the above spelling, while the police incident report refers to the victim as Fidel Meza-Solis.
“He always left to go out and bring us something to eat. That morning, he said he was going to be back in 30 minutes and he didn't come back,” son Jesus
His father worked construction and was a conscientious driver, said
Meza said he doesn't have an opinion about whether or not Samples should have been charged, but was not angry about the wreck.
“I'm just sad,” Meza said.
He leaves behind a wife, Maria Castrueta, and a 4-year-old daughter.
Samples and a paramedic who was in the ambulance are both on administrative leave.
“Mr. Samples acted with due care and full regard toward the motorists of Oklahoma City,” read a statement released by Sample's attorney, Ed Blau. “Mr. Samples followed all EMSA procedures and protocols in responding to an emergency; as such, he is innocent of the charge against him. However, as a dedicated EMSA employee and 33 year Oklahoma City resident, Mr. Samples is devastated by the tragedy that occurred at 10th and May. His thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Solis' family and friends.”
Negligent homicide is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
The police affidavit said the ambulance was responding to a “priority two fall” call.
Lara O'Leary, spokeswoman for the Emergency Medical Services Authority, refused Monday to explain the difference between calls of various priority levels and would not say what came of the call the ambulance was responding to at the time of the wreck.
O'Leary said EMSA attorneys advised officials not to answer any questions and to release the following statement:
“This is an unfortunate incident. We have independently verified that the lights and siren were on during the entire course of events. All other aspects of this accident are undergoing further investigation. We have cooperated fully with the investigating authorities and will continue to do so.”
EMSA did not immediately respond to an open records request for policies and procedures dictating how ambulances are to be driven during emergencies.