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No charges in ambulance and bike crash

Karen Caruso hit an ambulance that ran a red light

Police investigations into a crash between a motorcycle and an ambulance that went through a red light have concluded with no charges laid for driver or rider.

The crash happened at a set of lights at 11am on September 28, 2016, in Vermont South, Melbourne, between a Victorian Ambulance Ford Territory and Karen Caruso on her 2015 Ducati 899.

The Major Crash Investigation Unit (MCIU) concluded that the ambulance travelled through a red traffic light, impacting Karen at 43kmh, throwing her 12m and the bike 17m down the road. 

Karen spent five months away from home in both The Alfred Hospital and rehab, and she faces further corrective surgery and continued rehab for some time.

Meanwhile, Ambulance Victoria insurance company, Zurich Insurance, has frozen the claim and is continuing to deny liability for the crash.

However, it has been reported that the ambulance did not come to a stop at the red signal before proceeding through the intersection where Karen was turning on a green signal.

Although emergency vehicles are not required by law to come to a complete stop before proceeding through a red light, they must “take reasonable care”.

Karen has little recollection of the incident apart from engaging first gear and watching traffic in preparation to move off, then waking up in the emergency department of The Alfred.

The following drawing of the incident was submitted to the MCIU by the ambulance driver which shows the vehicle in the right lane. However the MCIU rejected that as false.

Karen Caruso hit an ambulance that ran a red light
Crash investigation diagram of the crash

If the ambulance was in the far left lane, as reported by eyewitnesses, it may have been obscured from Karen’s view by stationary cars in the other lanes.

“I’m disappointed that the MICA driver has suffered no consequences from the crash he caused,” Karen says.

“He drove straight into me; he admitted to not seeing my vehicle.

“It’s his duty of care to ensure the safety of other road users isn’t compromised on the way to a call-out, for both the benefit of road users and in the interest of the patient who was requiring medical assistance to begin with.”

The only solace for Karen is that she has not been fined for failing to give way to an emergency vehicle. 

She could pay the insurance excess and hope for a favourable payout, but it would affect her future premiums, so she has decided to sue Ambulance Victoria.

Meanwhile, investigations continue into a July 2016 crash in Melbourne between a Camry and two motorcycles. Watch the video below.

  1. … and sue she should.

    If I read the story correctly, the ambo’s statement conflicts with witness statements (to the extent that MCIU agreed with the witness statements), and there was comment somewhere about the ambo not being under lights and sirens? It is inconceivable that the ambo would not know which lane they entered the intersection on.

    That aside, when I was driving emergency vehicles we were all instructed that driving in any way resulting in non-arrival at the emergency was inexcusable. We were told no emergency was important enough to warrant killing someone to get there – a point that should actually be very clear to any reasonable person, but not so it would seem to some …

    This ambo made a mistake, and compounded it by being economical with the truth …

  2. If you run into something vehicle etc that is in front of you,you are in the wrong.
    The Motorcycle was almost out of the intersection when hit!
    Why did the Ambo driver move to the left into her path?
    And where are the cameras at the intersection surely there is some footage some were!
    Very fishy me thinks!
    I hope Karen come out of this well rewarded because she is gong to need the help latter in life.
    My thoughts.

  3. Couple of basic questions:
    Was the ambo vehicle sounding a warning siren and/or did it have its lights flashing? (Article does not state one way of the other).
    At what point before the accident were they activated – if in fact they were activated at all?
    Was the ambo on an officially logged emergency job?
    What was the nature of other traffic at the intersection – pantech sided trucks, large SUV’s, small cars etc? Goes to the issue of obscuration.
    Assuming the ambo was in the right-hand lane, how can that vehicle then immediately swerve 45 degrees left within the width of just three lanes, across (approx.) half the distance of an intersection and yet still have an impact speed of 43km/h? Seems to defy physics. However, if it had been in the left lane and continued straight, or nearly straight ahead, totally reasonable.

    That an ambo might have a different recollection of events after just having almost been involved in a fatal – very understandable. That someone who might have been using their best endeavours to assist someone in distress, is now faced with the tragedy of the outcome.

    Clearly, there are no winners in this – just losers.

    1. Let’s do a simulation. Vehicle masses, velocity and acceleration, direction. resolve the energy equations during impact or work backwards. I think I can get my code to do that. The 899 Panigale is so close to current setup, time to do the multibody dynamics code integration so effects of suspension and load transfer are included, Stanford University unstructired SU2 could do aerodynamic effects but at low speeds not relevant. It’s fluid flow at impact, each cell exchanging energy, hmmmm. Let’s nail the effors

  4. I think it’s shocking that this case has taken so long to reach a conclusion and then not really get it right!!
    Clearly, the Ambo. lied according to eye witnesses and did the wrong thing resulting in the injuries sustained by Karen! He should be held accountable for his actions in failing to ensure the intersection was “safe to proceed”. He didn’t do that!
    Where is the justice in this? Everyone goes into ass protection mode and the poor victim (Karen) continues to suffer. What a lot of BS.
    Stick it to them Karen !! I pray that you will receive an appropriate settlement for your pain and suffering (although I suspect that it will never be adequate compensation for your physical losses).

  5. Emergency vehicles do NOT have an automatic right of way regardless of sirens or the nature of the emergency. The siren signals a request for right of way and they must enter any intersection with caution so as to ensure that other road users are safe, no exceptions. Not sure of what happened in this instance and sad for all parties but Karen should be covered and the insurance company proves once again that they are an absolute disgrace.

  6. Our son was killed by a bus driver that did a right hand turn in front of him as he went through an intersection controlled by traffic lights. Bus driver said he turned on a green light; not a green arrow. Bus driver said he did not see our son & claimed our son had run a red light despite the fact that if he had a green light, our son also had a green light. A police officer with the same surname as the bus driver arrived at the scene & commenced supervising the police already in attendance. The police did not call out the Crash Investigation Unit despite that being mandatory for serious or fatal crashes. A witness behind our son said he crashed into the rear half of the bus & the police accepted this despite the only damage to the bus being on the front left hand corner & minimal damage to right hand side of our son’s bike. There was no damage to the forks or front wheel. Police claimed our son was at fault as he was speeding & had gone through a red light. There was no evidence to suggest he was speeding. It took me nearly 4 years of dealing with police lies & obstruction before an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Board led to the Crash Investigation Unit reviewing the crash & clearing our son. My family received an apology from an Assistant Police Commissioner but the bus driver nor the corrupt police faced no charges or disciplinary action.

  7. I know this may not sit well with most people here but regardless of the circumstances – You must be on the lookout at all times, especially transitioning an intersection, regardless of the light color or right of way and especially when pulling away from a stop or give way position and especially if you can’t see what’s coming in the left lanes due to obstructions. If no visibility due to visual obstruction – reduce speed, prepare to stop and proceed with caution. I highly doubt the ‘ambo’ driver was ‘busting the intersection’ at high speed. They were both more than likely at fault – to varying degrees. Respect to the sensible comments made by ‘Daff’. I wish Karen a full (as possible) recovery and hope the driver is able to recover from whatever guilt complex he/she has been left with.
    P.S. I am a long standing road rider and have no links to the emergency services.

  8. So many emergency vehicles drive in a reckless manner. And as we ALL own the roads, since when should they have preference in racing to a medical emergency, a medical emergency that may not have threatened a life. And since ambos have plenty of human help and medical equipment ans supplies on board, there is no necessity for these people to run lights, or even proceed through an intersection on red lights. And yet if I, as a private citizen, was taking someone to the hospital in an emergency, because ambos were not available or timely, I cannot run red lights to get that person to the hospital, or drive over the speed limit, or bully my way through a traffic jam.

    The case can be made that most emergency medical runs by ambos must obey ALL road rules (the rules are different from laws) at all times as they have plenty of medical help on board the ambo. And how many drivers have been frightened by the sudden appearance of noise and flashing lights rapidly bearing down on their vehicle?

    I think it is time to remove this privilege from ambo drivers, as well as removing those flashing lights from the ambos. Time they obey the road rules like the rest of us lowly peons and cop their punishments when they break the law.

    From the article, the motorbiker was in the intersection first, and had the right of way. Time for the guilty party to pay up and settle the case.

    In a lot of times, I have had motorbike riders appear from nowhere. This is happening more these days. Motorbike headlights have been neutralised by all the cars with daytime running lights, and headlights beaming on a bright sunny day, which hide completely the motorbike lights. This is another issue that the government has screwed up, because the government do not like motorbikes and want them off the road, and this is one of their idiotic ways of doing this.

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