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Medical Driver Hurt, Airlifted After Crash

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. -- The driver of a medical response vehicle was flown from the scene of a crash Monday when his vehicle and another car sideswiped each other on Interstate 95 and he lost control on the Gateway Boulevard exit ramp in Boynton Beach, a witness and authorities said.

Ronald Childs, 52, from The Acreage, said he was driving his Lincoln Town Car in the right northbound lane just before the exit when he felt impact and what sounded like an explosion after another vehicle struck his driver's door.

His door window shattered, raining glass in a blinding downpour.

"I hit my brakes and I couldn't see," Childs said. "It was like sand all over."

Childs pulled over to the shoulder just past the exit, while the American Medical Response vehicle swerved and lost control as it entered the exit ramp, Childs said.

The AMR van, which the company said is used to transport people in wheelchairs, landed on its side halfway up the ramp. It was not carrying patients, said Brooke Liddle, AMR operations manager for Palm Beach and Broward counties.

Boynton Beach Fire Rescue cut a hole in the roof and pulled off the doors to extricate the driver. Rescue workers closed northbound I-95 briefly to clear a landing zone for a rescue helicopter.

The driver, identified by the Florida Highway Patrol as James Smith, 43, of North Lauderdale, suffered serious injuries, especially to one arm, which he could lose, FHP Sgt. Robert Chandler said.

Childs suffered scratches to his arms from broken glass but neither he nor his 91-year-old passenger required hospital attention.

"It happened so quickly," Childs said. "I just thank God I had a heavy car."

Dianna Cahn can be reached at dcahn@SunSentinel.com or 561-243-6645.

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