An FDNY emergency medical technician was killed in front of her partner on Thursday evening when a man stole her ambulance and ran her over. Yadira Arroyo, 44, was a mother of five and a 14-year FDNY veteran.
Arroyo and her partner Monique Williams were responding to a call in the Bronx around 7:10 p.m. when passersby told them a man was riding on the rear bumper of their ambulance. When the EMTs exited the vehicle to confront him, he ran around them and got behind the wheel.
“They were acting very bravely. They certainly wanted to continue on their way to the call. This person had no business being in this ambulance,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
The EMTs tried to stop him, grabbing at the sides of the ambulance, but he threw the vehicle into reverse, fatally striking Arroyo and injuring Williams. “He reversed so hard and she was dragged,” said one witness. “He ran over her and she went under the wheels.”
The man then drove up onto the sidewalk and crashed into parked cars on Watson Avenue. A K-9 officer and several bystanders prevented the man from fleeing.
Video of the incident shows Williams wailing over her partner, then trying to kick the man before being pulled away.
“She was screaming, ‘My partner, my partner!’ She was screaming hysterically. I can’t forget her screaming,” witness Nancy Montavo told the Daily News. “All the police came running and they put her in an ambulance.”
The 25-year-old suspect is in custody but police haven’t identified him. A source told the Daily News he has a lengthy criminal record and “was incoherent and talking to himself.”
Officials said Arroyo is the eighth member of the New York emergency medical services to be killed in the line of duty.
“An EMT was lost in the line of duty, bravely doing her job and encountering the kind of danger that our EMTs should not have to confront,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “They should not ever have to be subjected to violence, and yet that danger always exists for them.”