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Idaho Paramedic Cited for Ambulance Crash

A certified Idaho Falls ambulance driver was at fault in an Oct. 18 injury accident.

Brian Wood, an Idaho Falls paramedic, was cited for failing to obey traffic control devices, an infraction, while driving an ambulance. The citation was issued following an Idaho State Police investigation.

The accident occur­red at 2 p.m. at the intersection of Ammon Road and U.S. Highway 26.

Ryan Wetzel, 33, was stopped at the intersection in a red 2004 Toyota pickup, according to an ISP report. Wood, 38, was driving east on Highway 26 with the ambulance's lights and sirens activated. The ambulance crew was responding to a motor vehicle accident.

According to the ISP report, Wetzel, of Idaho Falls, entered the intersection with a green traffic light. Wood, of Idaho Falls, entered the intersection with a red traffic light.

The ambulance - which had Reed Rockwood, 28, and Jared Johnson, 24, both of Idaho Falls, as passengers - collided with the front passenger's side of Wetzel's truck.

Wetzel was not wearing a seat belt, as were all three men in the ambulance. Wetzel was taken to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center by ground ambulance.

No one in the ambulance was injured.

According to Idaho statute 49-623, the driver of an ambulance can proceed past a red stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation.

The law goes on to state that the exemptions given to authorized vehicles during emergency response ""shall not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency or police vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor shall these provisions protect the driver from the consequences of his reckless disregard for the safety of others.""

The report said a contributing circumstance in the accident was Wetzel failing to yield to an emergency vehicle, however, Wetzel was not cited for failing to yield.

Idaho Falls Fire Chief Dean Ellis said Wood will pay for the Nov. 15 citation out of his own pocket. Wood also has been reprimanded by the department, but Ellis would not comment on the specifics of the reprimand because it is a personnel matter.



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