An emergency medical technician had cocaine in his bloodstream when he crashed an ambulance into a Chicago building in March, causing three deaths.
The March 31 accident claimed the lives of 50-year-old co-EMT Prentis Williams, 48-year-old patient Larry Marshall Jr., who was on dialysis, and 51-year-old EMT driver James Wesley. Toxicology reports from the Cook County Medical Examiner show cocaine in Wesley’s system at the time of the crash, according to an exclusive investigation from the ABC7 I-Team.
The autopsy found Wesley had a chronic cardiac condition but said it “cannot confirm or deny that an acute cardiac event and/or cocaine intoxication contributed to motor vehicle collision.” Officials previously found Wesley had several past felony convictions that should have blocked him from ever driving the ambulance.
The ambulance involved in the crash was labeled Excel, however, investigators say the ambulance was not licensed or registered with the Excel Ambulance Company. Representatives for ambulance company New Life, which recently shut down, said the ambulance previously belonged to them. (RELATED: Global Opium And Cocaine Production Has Never Been Higher)
They allege Wesley took the ambulance from a garage to do “freelance runs” March 31.
“James Wesley knew the regular schedule,” Frank Nagorka, an attorney for New Life, told the ABC7 I-Team. “They had no idea he went to pick up this patient or that the ambulance was taken. He took the ambulance without permission. He (Wesley) was not authorized to take the ambulance.”
Cocaine is increasingly being linked to drug overdose deaths across the country.
Cocaine deaths spiked by 52 percent nationally between 2015 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, following many years of relatively stable numbers.
Officials estimate the substance is now killing roughly 13,000 Americans each year, up from 6,700 in 2015.
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