DUANESBURG, NY – Investigations have determined that an ambulance driver fell asleep at the wheel causing an accident that claimed the life a patient being transported to the hospital and injured an EMT.
Schenectady County Sheriff Dominic Dagostino said that Mohawk Ambulance driver Cody Bryans, 21, was behind the wheel when the crash happened on May 24th. Bryans and an emergency medical technician were taking cancer patient Chris J. Aernecke, 64, of Sloansville, home from treatment at Albany Medical Center.
An autopsy determined Aernecke died from massive trauma.
The crash occurred on Route 20 in Duanesburg, which is also known as Western Turnpike, at 5:04 p.m. that Wednesday. The Mohawk Ambulance left the road and struck a tree.
While releasing the cause of the crash, Dagostino said the investigation remains open. No tickets have been issued or charges filed. The sheriff said the results of toxicology tests on the driver are pending. He noted that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also involved in the investigation.
The NHTSA found in a 2014 study that, nationally, there were 4,500 crashes involving ambulances between 1992 and 2011, and fewer than one percent resulted in fatalities. Annually, 33 people die in ambulance accidents, according to the report. Only about one-fifth of the time it is the patient being transported who dies; most often, it is someone in another vehicle.
In a prepared statement, Mohawk Ambulance said Byrans was eight hours into a 12-hour shift at the time of the accident, following 14 hours off. The private ambulance firm said 12-hour shifts are the standard in the ambulance industry nationally, and the two crew members were on their fifth call of the day.
The company said that, in more than 50 years of serving the Capital Region, this was the only crash that has lead to a patient’s death.
See related story: http://sunnewsreport.com/niosh-research-ambulance-worker-safety/