INTERVIEW: Ambulance driver charged after police pursuit crash

By Diane Walker - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Reckless driving charges are filed against a man accused of leading Petersburg police on a high-speed chase yesterday.

But they were also filed against an ambulance driver.

Investigators say, the ambulance driver saw the chase, and moved his vehicle to block the car, being driven by 22-year-old Kevin Foster. Foster ended up crashing his car into the ambulance.

But, some people are wondering why the ambulance driver, 46-year-old Mark Talbott, was charged.

NBC12 Legal Analyst Steven Benjamin joined us to discuss.

DIANE: I'm no attorney, but my guess is police don't want anybody or everybody feeling that they can become an officer on a whim.

STEVEN: See there, you don't need me. The folks don't need me.

DIANE: Give us more.

STEVEN: If an emergency vehicle is approaching, we know we have one duty and one duty only. That is it get out of the way. The law is get out of the way as quickly as circumstances permit. Get to the side of the road. Stop and remain there. Stay put until that emergency vehicle is gone or the police direct you otherwise. If you don't do that, then that's at least failure to yield right-of-way, which is a traffic infraction.

DIANE: But the flip side of this, though. The ambulance driver may have actually saved people's lives. Police have said that he hit another vehicle before crashing into the ambulance and he was threatening putting other people, innocent people on street in danger.

STEVE: Oh, yeah. I mean, when somebody runs like that, we know, don't we, that that endangers everyone. The police, that guy, innocent citizens, but that's the whole point. You already have a bad dangerous situation. The police don't want another citizen injecting themselves into the situation because they become just one more out of control vehicle or vehicle that police can't control. The police are trying to control and apprehend the fleeing guy. When the citizen is involved, the police have no way of communicating with you. They're not in radio contact. They don't know what you're going to do. You're more likely to frustrate their training and their efforts to catch this guy than to do any good.

DIANE: For the ambulance driver, how much will good intentions weigh if it plays out?

STEVEN: He's been charged as reckless driving. That's when you drive your motor vehicle in some way that endangers the lives of others. Obviously, that's exactly what he did. He placed himself, he obstructed a highway, so that there was this crash. It could have harmed him, it certainly harmed the fleeing guy. It could have harmed the police.

DIANE: Put an ambulance out of commission.

STEVEN: Exactly right. His job wasn't to become a policeman. Trying to catch somebody. He doesn't have the training, that's not his duty. The police needed him to be out of the way. His job is as an ambulance driver. To be available for medical assistance.

DIANE: You're tough. But that's the law.

STEVEN: I am tough. That's the law.

DIANE: Thanks, Steven, we appreciate it.

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