UPDATED: A paramedic and her patient were killed in a single-vehicle crash on Route 24 near Rehoboth Beach in the early hours of Tuesday morning, June 17, after the ambulance swerved to avoid a deer.
According to Delaware State Police, police responded to the crash involving the Mid-Sussex Rescue Squad ambulance at 2:39 a.m., on Route 24 (John J. Williams Highway) in the area of the Rehoboth–Lewes Fire Company substation, after the driver of the ambulance advised they had been involved in a crash.
Police said Betty J. Hall, 82, of Lewes, who was being transported to Beebe Medical Center at the time of the crash, was ejected from the ambulance and killed. Sussex County paramedic Stephanie L. Callaway, 31, of Lewes, who was in the rear of the ambulance attending to Hall, was also ejected. Callaway was transported to the hospital in critical condition but later died due to injuries sustained in the crash.
Mid-Sussex Rescue Squad emergency medical technician Brice H. Hickman, 47, of Dagsboro, who was also attending to Hall in the ambulance’s rear section, was injured when he was ejected. He was admitted to Beebe Medical Center and was listed in serious condition mid-day on Tuesday.
Ambulance driver Michael E. Wissman, 34, of Frankford was also injured and was admitted to Beebe Hospital in stable condition. He was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, police noted.
Police investigators said the ambulance had been traveling eastbound on Route 24, en route to Beebe Medical Center, with its emergency equipment activated. The crew had just picked up Hall from Renaissance Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, located in Long Neck.
During the transport, police said, Wissman encountered a deer in the roadway directly in the path of the ambulance. He maneuvered to the right shoulder in an attempt to avoid the deer, they said, at which point the right-side wheels of the ambulance left the roadway.
As a result, the rear, box portion of the ambulance struck a tree, causing severe damage and opening a large hole on the right side of the vehicle, which police said led to the ejections. The ambulance then struck some additional trees before coming to rest on the right shoulder, they reported.
Route 24 in the area of the substation was closed for investigation of the accident. The roadway was reopened mid-morning on Tuesday. The crash remained under investigation mid-day.