Top of ambulance flies off while on I-79; drivers mistake piece for boat

BRIDGEVILLE, Pa. — A piece flew off the top of an ambulance on an interstate in Allegheny County and several drivers thought it was a boat.

“We felt the wind just blowing us side to side like any vehicle that has a higher roof,” said Priority One EMS Nicholas Richardson

Richardson was transporting a VA patient who was just discharged. He was driving down I-79, near the Bridgeville exit.

“Since the wind was blowing right to left, I was more staying in the left lane just in case if we did get a gust of wind I didn’t want to put anyone in danger,” said Richardson.

Then, he says he felt a big gust of wind.

“The next thing I felt was a small gust of wind go inside the cabin,” said Richardson. “Because I got blown to the left, as I was recorrecting, I saw the cap of the vehicle flying off in my left mirror and then down off to the side.”

It seems other drivers were extremely confused by what they saw. One driver who hit the cap thought it was a boat.

“Doesn’t surprise me if you see how those things look,” said Richardson. “It looks like one of those canoes that some people have like little skiffs that people send off in shallow water.”

A Channel 11 Photographer drove around the cap Wednesday night and recorded video of the ambulance on the side of the interstate. Richardson says his partner and their patient had no clue what happened.

“The patient that we had thought it was a block of ice that flew off the roof,” said Richardson.

He’s grateful no one got hurt.

“It’s one of those freak accidents you can never really plan for,” said Richardson. “I’m just glad it flew off to the left compared to it going off to the right and going into traffic.”

Priority One says it has about five ambulances that are this style. After what happened Wednesday evening, they inspected all of them.

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