STOCKTON, Calif. A police officer injured in a collision with an ambulance early Sunday remains hospitalized in serious condition as investigators determine which vehicle ran a red light while responding to separate emergencies.
Officer Kimberly Sailius, 36, was airlifted to the Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto on Monday with multiple broken bones and severe head and facial trauma, said Officer Pete Smith, a spokesman for the Stockton Police Department.
Sailius drove the cruiser that was broadsided by an American Medical Response ambulance at around 3:30 a.m. Sunday after both vehicles, lights on and sirens blaring, entered an intersection nearly simultaneously.
Sailius, who joined the department last year, is expected to recover from her injuries, Smith said, but it won’t be an easy process.
“She’s got a long road — a lot of surgeries, a lot of recovery,” he said. “But she’s going to recover. She’s tough.”
Few details surrounding the accident have been made available, including how fast the vehicles were traveling. Stockton police and AMR are conducting investigations to determine which of the two vehicles ran a red light at the intersection, according to Smith and Jason Sorrick, a spokesman for the ambulance firm.
During a Code 3 response, in which lights and sirens are used, emergency vehicles can exceed the posted speed limit and drive through a red light when there is no oncoming traffic, according to state law. But vehicles at a red light must first slow down and make sure the coast is clear, Smith said.
“You can’t blow a red light just because you have sirens and lights on,” he said.
Here’s how police described the accident: Sailius and Officer Emiliano Rincon were northbound on El Dorado Street at around 3:30 a.m., responding to reports of a shooting.
The American Medical Response ambulance was eastbound on Weber Avenue responding to a separate call for a 5-month-old infant that had lost consciousness.
The ambulance struck the cruiser on the driver’s side. Rincon, 26, was treated for a concussion at San Joaquin General Hospital and is expected to return to duty next week. The paramedic and emergency medical technician in the ambulance were treated and released from Lodi Memorial Hospital with minor injuries. Their names have not been released.
The ambulance carried no patients at the time of the accident, Sorrick said.
The shooting call was handled by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office because it was in an unincorporated area, Smith said. Another ambulance was dispatched for the other call, and the infant was taken to St. Joseph’s Medical Center for nonemergency treatment, said Dan Burch, the county’s Emergency Medical Services director.
Sailius is not married but has family in the Stockton area, Smith said. Her family could not be reached for comment Monday.
Collisions between emergency vehicles are rare, observers said. Since taking over the county’s 911 ambulance service in May 2006, three ambulances have been involved in accidents, although this is the first involving another emergency vehicle, Burch said.
It’s not clear how many accidents Stockton’s police cruisers have had in recent years.