Two paramedics were killed last week after their ambulance crashed in Jupiter, Florida. They were identified as Paul Besaw, 36, and Lahiri Garcia, 51. Both men worked for American Medical Response (AMR).
According to the police report, the crash occurred at around 3 a.m. on May 25 outside Colonial Plaza on a section of Indiantown Road. Garcia and Besaw were driving to the AMR station on Indian Creek Drive after dropping off a patient at a nearby hospital. They were alone in the ambulance at the time of crash.
A witness told news sources that a red Chrysler Sebring convertible that was driving east on Indiantown Road attempted to make a U-turn in the median and pulled out in front of the ambulance, which was driving west on the road. The ambulance did not have its emergency lights on, but both vehicles had their headlights on.
The impact left the ambulance was on its side and heavily damaged the right side of the Chrysler. The occupants of both vehicles had to be cut out by firefighters, Captain Albert Borroto told the press. The name of the driver of the Chrysler has not been released, but he was reportedly critically injured and was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach. Besaw and Garcia died at the scene.
“The AMR family has lost two amazing people. They were dedicated husbands, fathers, friends and teammates,” said Bill Hall, regional director for AMR.
A recent town study found that the stretch of Indiantown road where the accident occurred, which is close to the 3,000-student Jupiter High School, has seen 27 crashes in the past five years. Three of the crashes involved bicycles and one involved a pedestrian. Most of the crashes took place at peak school traffic times, the report said
“The current roadway configuration generates extremely high-risk vehicular behavior and maneuvers often performed by young and inexperienced drivers attending Jupiter Community High School,” the report stated.
Jupiter officials agree that the road is long overdue for improvements.
“It’s a tragedy that we haven’t fixed this problem already. There have to be traffic pattern changes in that area,” said Jupiter Vice Mayor Wayne Posner.
Posner’s sentiments were echoed by Colleen Lannitti, the principal of Jupiter High School, during a recent town council meeting. Lannitti called the current traffic pattern “a hazard both for drivers and walkers” and said “anything that can be done to relieve traffic would be beneficial for families and students.”
A restaurant located on the stretch of road, which often has traffic backups at lunchtime, has also requested the town make changes on Indiantown Road to help lessen backups and improve safety.
Changes are reportedly being considered. The town is moving forward with a plan to offer $2.8 million for two vacant plots near the high school that will be used to improve road safety. The changes will include a traffic signal and a turn lane on Indiantown.