Man steals ambulance, crashes family cookout

YOUNGSTOWN, OH (WKBN) – Bob Marchionda was in the middle of his Labor Day Sunday when he saw something he had never seen before.

Police cars from three different departments, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and an ambulance had pulled up to his house.

“That’s a first, only on TV,” Marchionda said.

He had family and friends over his house on Sheridan Avenue on the south side of Youngstown.

“Just sitting here having a cookout and we see the ambulance come by, a few cruisers, thought they were going to an accident. Then the ambulance pulled through a neighbor’s front yard, came through and parked right in my driveway,” Marchionda said.

There was no medical emergency at Marchionda’s house. Police said 41-year-old Jose Diaz Jr. had stolen an ambulance from a gas station in Liberty because it had been left unlocked with the key inside.

“Sometimes, when vehicles are left unattended, it’s a crime of opportunity. So we see this, where people take it for a short distance, a joy ride,” said Highway Patrol Trooper David Brown.

Unfortunately for the ambulance thief, the ambulance had a GPS tracker. Highway Patrol and local police followed the ambulance down Interstate 680, off Midlothian Boulevard, then around the corner to the cookout.

“The driver did not try to run, he parked, and at that point we had him surrounded,” Brown said.

Marchionda said the situation turned scary when officers pulled up and drew their guns on the man. Thankfully, in front of many children and family members, the situation ended peacefully.

“We apprehended him and he was taken back without incident,” Brown said.

Diaz Jr. was taken to the Mahoning County Jail without bond. He has been charged with receiving stolen property and failure to comply with the orders of a police officer.

Marchionda said he doesn’t know the suspect at all, so why the suspect drove to his house specifically is unknown.

“There was one open spot. He parked right there. That was it,” Marchionda said.

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