Monday, March 21, 2011

Kiryas Joel ambulance driver cited for 21 traffic violations 

A Kiryas Joel ambulance corps member faces charges of reckless driving for allegedly running a patrol officer and other motorists off the road in a frantic dash to get to a traffic accident on Route 17.

Officers arrested Menachem Kramer and cited him for 21 violations of vehicle and traffic laws in the Feb. 18 incident. He is scheduled to appear in village court April 7.

According to a police report, Kramer's gray 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe sped head-on toward a Village of Chester patrol officer on Brookside Avenue, forcing the officer to quickly maneuver his vehicle out of the way.

Kramer had his lights and sirens on in an apparent attempt to get to a Route 17 rollover that already was in the process of being cleared by Chester rescue workers, according to the report.

The victims in that rollover also had been determined to be uninjured, and they had refused medical attention, the police report said.

It was unclear Tuesday who had made the call to Kiryas Joel Ambulance, but it is well known that EMS workers from the Hasidic village rush to calls from members of their religion, even if other first responders already are at the scene tending to the wounded.

According to the report, Kramer drove at excessive speeds, as well as down the center of Brookside Avenue, forcing cars in the turning lanes to quickly veer out of the way — some into the path of oncoming traffic.

The Hasidic EMS worker then went through the red light at the intersection of Brookside and Summerville Way, where he made a left to get to the Route 17 Exit 126 on-ramp, the report said.

The pursuing Village of Chester officer called ahead to State Police, who were at the scene of the rollover, and asked them to detain Kramer upon his arrival.

Kramer was given 15 different traffic tickets by Chester village police, as well as an additional six tickets from state police, whose troopers also cited Kramer for driving recklessly.

Kramer and his attorney declined comment. Calls to the Kiryas Joel Ambulance Corps, known as Hatzolah in its community, went unreturned.

Village of Chester police Chief Peter Graziano said ambulance corps members, like all first responders, have leeway in obeying traffic laws when responding to emergencies, but they must use "due care."

"Running people off the road just isn't allowed," he said. The chief added that emergency officials in the village doesn't often drive carelessly.

"Just because you're a first responder, it doesn't give you the excuse to drive like a maniac," Graziano said.


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