Local News

Dunn Woman Dies In Fatal Ambulance Accident

Posted January 8, 2001

— When we see an ambulance going down the road, we assume a sick patient is getting help. That was not the case for an 84-year-old woman in Dunn who lost her life when the ambulance she was in was involved in an accident Monday.

Flowers adorn the entrance to the apartment where 84-year-old Nancy McKinley lived. Lesley Snead, McKinley's great niece, remembers her as a feisty, independent woman who loved life.

"She was my aunt Nancy. She never met a stranger, everybody around here knew her. She was a loving person," she says.

McKinley was killed Monday night when the ambulance transporting her from Betsy Johnson Hospital in Dunn to WakeMed was hit by a tractor-trailer, then struck a utility pole.

"I heard the screech, and I looked down I saw the collision," says Shane Dawson, who witnessed the accident. "I saw the ambulance on its side, and I heard the explosion. I guess it was from the transformer."

"Boom. All of a sudden you heard that, and then people started rushing out there to help them. It was a terrible accident," says Chad Worrell, who also witnessed the wreck.

Investigators say the ambulance slowed down at the intersection, but then proceeded through a red light.

"If you're operating your emergency equipment, then you can enter through an intersection and go through a red light, but only if you can do it in a safe manner. You must yield to oncoming traffic," says Lt. Johnny Hawley of the Dunn Police Department.

Snead hopes prayers will lead to answers.

"Prayers. Lots of prayers. That's the only way you can get through something like this," she says.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, the driver of the ambulance and two EMS workers in the back of the ambulance were not hurt. The ambulance is one of 60 in seven counties in North Carolina operated by a company called "First Health."

A company spokesperson says it is the first serious accident one of their vehicles has ever been involved in.


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