Naked man crashes stolen ambulance into Portuguese Cultural Centre in Winnipeg

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service says paramedics were in the area of Notre Dame Avenue and Furby Street around 8:30 a.m. when they encountered a man who needed help. When they stopped, he threatened them and later took off in their ambulance.

Ambulance stolen after paramedics stopped to help man around 8:30 Friday morning, fire paramedic chief says

Police say a person stole an ambulance and crashed it into the Portuguese Cultural Centre on Notre Dame Avenue. (Submitted by Cheryl Danners)

A naked man driving a stolen ambulance crashed into a Winnipeg cultural centre on Friday morning, a witness says, narrowly missing some people outside the building.

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Chief John Lane said the incident began around 8:30 a.m. Paramedics en route to another station happened upon someone who was "clearly in need of assistance" in the area of Notre Dame Avenue and Furby Street, Lane said.

He said he couldn't elaborate on why the man needed help, because doing so would violate the man's privacy.

When the paramedics stopped to try to help the man, though, he began threatening them, Lane said at a Friday news conference.

"It deteriorated within 70 seconds … of them encountering this individual on the street," Lane said.

"He acted in a very aggressive, violent manner," said Winnipeg police Const. Rob Carver.

Paramedics notified police of the emergency, but the man ran past them and jumped into the ambulance, and then drove off.

Shortly after, he crashed into the Portuguese Cultural Centre on Notre Dame.

A damaged ambulance was towed away from the scene after it was stolen and crashed into the Portuguese Cultural Centre on Notre Dame Avenue. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Cortney Creasy saw it all unfold from her office at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2085 training centre, right next door to the crash site. After it happened, she said she saw the man leave with some items he apparently took from the vehicle.

"He jumped out of the ambulance and acted like nothing happened. The airbags had gone off and everything. He was completely nude. Nothing on," she said.

Cortney Creasy works at the IBEW Training Centre next door to where the crash happened. She says she was terrified when the driver got out and ran away. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

Creasy said she ran into the office, locking the door behind her.

"It was shocked and I was scared. I knew right then and there that I needed to get away from him and just hide."

Dean Jorgensen works for Boretta Construction, a company that's building an office right next door.

He says he was nearly hit by the ambulance driving erratically down Notre Dame Avenue, going the wrong way.

"We were wondering, 'what the hell,'" he said.

"He came right at us, so we jumped over onto the sidewalk."

Dean Jorgensen was nearly hit by the stolen ambulance. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

The vehicle was recovered and a man has been taken into custody, police said.

Lane says the incident will be reviewed internally, but from his perspective, the attending paramedics didn't do anything wrong.

"We're very grateful that none of our crews, none of the public, apart from the individual in question, suffered any physical injury in this incident. Of course our crews are quite shaken," he said.

Lane said it's too early to say if the incident is related to drug use, but he also can't divulge that information for privacy reasons.

Other emergency vehicles stolen

This isn't the first time an emergency vehicle has been stolen in or near Winnipeg.

Last November, a fire truck was stolen and driven throughout the downtown.

The truck was stolen in Winnipeg's East Kildonan neighbourhood, and then driven toward the city's downtown, where it swerved toward people as it drove across the grass at Central Park, before it was finally stopped on Assiniboine Avenue underneath the Midtown Bridge.

Winnipeg police block a fire truck that was stolen on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Last July, two men stole a Winnipeg police cruiser, which still had its key in the ignition, at a gas bar in Headingley.

The two men were arrested separately after a wild, high-speed pursuit that spanned more than 100 kilometres and involved numerous police vehicles.

And in 2017, a Winnipeg fire truck was stolen as a crew was helping a patient downtown.

Police recovered the truck within minutes at Portage Avenue and Sherbrook Street. In that case, there was no damage to the vehicle.

Naked man crashes stolen ambulance into building

2 years ago
Duration 2:07
A naked man driving a stolen ambulance crashed into a Winnipeg cultural centre on Friday morning, a witness says, narrowly missing some people outside the building.

With files from Meaghan Ketcheson and Trevor Brine