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N.J. ambulance crushes mechanic

Jersey City, N.J. A mechanic working in a Jersey City Medical Center garage was crushed to death Saturday morning when the ambulance he was working on apparently rolled over him.

A co-worker, looking through a window, saw 65-year-old Shokry Guirgius was trapped under an ambulance in the garage for the Jersey City Medical Center Emergency Medical Services vehicles, located at Central Avenue and Prospect Street, and called for help. Central Avenue was closed off in both directions.

The Jersey City Fire Department was eventually able to gain access to the locked building by knocking down a wall, the police report said.

It was not known how long Guirgius had been pinned under the ambulance, because he was working alone. According to a police report, he was found at 11 a.m., about 45 minutes after he'd last been seen.

The police report said the ambulance was not running, but there was a strong odor of fumes in the garage and a plastic exhaust tube extending from the ambulance's tail pipe.

"While viewing the scene, it was determined that the victim may have been working on a neutral safety switch on the ambulance," the police report said. "The vehicle was in 'park' with the key in the ignition and the emergency brake was not on. It does not appear that a jack was in use and there were no wheel chocks behind any wheel. It appears that the ambulance may have rolled back two feet and then on top of the victim."

John McKeegan, a spokesman for LibertyHealth System, which operates Jersey City Medical Center, said Guirgius was transported to the trauma center but died a short time later from his injuries.

Guirgius, an Edison resident, had been a mechanic for the medical center for 17 years.

A prayer vigil was held outside the garage last night that was attended by about 100 people.

McKeegan said the incident is under investigation by the Jersey City Police Department as well as the state Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

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