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Westminster man charged after car collides with ambulance at crash scene

Tracey Leong reports.

A Westminster man has been charged in a reported hit-and-run incident after he allegedly drove through a crash scene on Md. 140 on Friday, striking an ambulance, then drove away.

Gregory M. Jones, 68, of the 1700 block of Peppermint Lane, is charged with failure to stop after a crash involving damage to an attended vehicle, and failure to return to and remain at the scene of an accident involving damage to an attended vehicle, according to a news release from Maryland State Police.

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"This accident is pretty upsetting. It could have had disastrous results. Fortunately no one was hurt," Westminster Volunteer Fire Department spokesman Kevin Dayhoff said. "We can get the ambulance fixed, but from the conversations I heard at the station right after the incident, the driver showed callous disregard for the life and safety of the Maryland State Police and the first-responders from Reese and Westminster that were on the scene."

The incident occurred just before 1:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23. Maryland State Police troopers from the Westminster Barrack, along with fire and emergency medical personnel from the Westminster and Reese fire companies, had responded to a vehicle collision on westbound Md. 140 and Sandymount Road in Finksburg.

A marked MSP patrol car blocked the left turn lane and another lane of westbound Md. 140 to protect the scene, according to police, and multiple fire engines and ambulances were also on the scene, all with emergency lights activated. All personnel were wearing orange safety vests, and orange cones had been set up.

A trooper was inside a Reese ambulance interviewing a driver involved in the crash when fire personnel at the scene informed him a vehicle had driven through the scene and struck the Westminster ambulance.

Witnesses on the scene told the trooper that the driver of a Chrysler 200 convertible had driven around the marked patrol car, into the median, and then back into the first lane, according to the release. As the driver moved through the crash scene, his car struck the side of the Westminster ambulance, then continued through the scene and turned onto Sandymount Road, according to the release.

No one was injured, but one Westminster fire company official reported a member had to jump out of the way of the vehicle to avoid being struck, according to the release.

A witness reported the tag number from the vehicle, which was registered to Jones. The trooper drove from the scene to Jones' residence, where he and the Chrysler 200, which had damage to its passenger side, were located, according to the release.

The trooper arrested Jones and transported him to the Carroll County Detention Center, where he was issued multiple traffic citations related to the incident.

A number listed for Jones was disconnected, and he could not be reached for comment.

"Motorists are reminded of the danger firefighters, EMS personnel, police officers and tow service operators face each time they are working at the scene of a traffic crash, traffic stop or disabled vehicle on or alongside a roadway. Police officers and fire personnel arrange vehicles strategically to safeguard the scene and alert oncoming motorists of their presence," the MSP news release stated.

In 2010, Maryland's "move over" law went into effect, requiring drivers to move into an open lane away from police cars, fire trucks and ambulances tending to roadside emergencies. Tow trucks were added to the law in 2014. If an open lane isn't available, drivers must slow to a reasonable and prudent speed that is safe as they pass the scene.

"The purpose of this law is to provide emergency workers an extra barrier of safety in which to perform their duties," the MSP release states.

"The men and women of the Westminster Volunteer Fire Department, on behalf of all Carroll County firefighters, EMS providers and police officers, urge the driving public to exercise extra restraint, caution, care, and patience when they come upon fire and police officials responding at an accident scene. The consequences of not exercising that extra care can be horrific," Dayhoff said. "Besides, they could be attending to your loved one, neighbor, friend, or family member — or the first-responder hurt or killed by your actions could be your loved one, neighbor, friend or family member. Move over — we want everyone to come home safely at the end of the day."

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