Mesa Police: Man claims to have stolen ambulance because it was too hot to walk

MESA, Ariz. (KSAZ) - A man is accused of stealing an ambulance from Banner Desert Hospital and police say he claims to have taken the vehicle because it was too hot to walk.

Mesa Police say on July 24, 37-year-old Todd Shell had just been released from the hospital for a heat related situation.

According to officials, "When officers interviewed Shell after his arrest, he said when he came out of the hospital he thought it was too hot to walk home. He walked back towards the hospital when he found the ambulance running in the bay while the crew was dropping off another patient. Shell decided to take the ambulance at that point so he wouldn't have to walk."

With the assistance of GPS, officers located the ambulance driving eastbound on U.S. 60. Police and Department of Public Safety troopers attempted to stop Shell, but he continued on. Shell later exited the freeway and stopped near Val Vista and University.

"Shell said that he wanted to buy a sandwich, but need to go home and get some money first. He said that he intended to return the ambulance," stated police.

Shell was booked into jail on one count of unlawful use of means of transportation and one count of unlawful flight from law enforcement. Both are class 5 felonies.

Danny Gyles with Phoenix Fire said it is not out of line for EMTs to leave the keys in the ignition, while bringing a patient into the ER.

"A lot of times, it has to do with the severity of the call, or working a serious patient in the back," said Gyles. "You know keys may get left in the ignition."

Gyles, however, said they try and be proactive.

"Our guys are really good about making sure they take the key out and take it with them, making sure the doors are closed," said Gyles. "We want to prevent against anything like that."

Police say the ambulance wasn't damaged and returned to service.