SANDPOINT — A man was arrested Monday night after inexplicably scuffling with Bonner County EMS personnel, commandeering an ambulance despite being shocked by a deputy’s Tazer and crashing the vehicle.
The suspect took off into the woods on Baldy Mountain, but was apprehended by deputies following a mile-long foot pursuit over steep terrain and through deep snow.
“No one was hurt — including the patient,” Bonner EMS Chief Rob Wakeley said.
Bonner EMS officials declined to identify the suspect because of federal health care privacy regulations, although court documents identify him as Cody Wayne Mills, a 25-year-old who resides in Sagle.
Mills is charged with driving a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent and resisting an officer, a felony and a misdemeanor, respectively. Judge Debra Heise set Mills’ bail at $12,000 and appointed a public defender to represent him, court records show.
The bizarre incident unfolded in the 900 block of Turtle Rock Road, after Bonner EMS responded to a report of subject having a seizure at about 10:30 p.m.
The two emergency medical technicians and a paramedic, however, encountered a subject who was experiencing anything but a seizure. Mills was combative and attempting to shove his own fist down his throat, according a probable cause hearing testimony.
With some difficulty, they managed to load Mills onto a gurney and put him into the ambulance. But Mills was able to undo his primary restraints as EMTs tried to put him into more secure extremity restraints attached to the gurney
Bonner EMS spokesman Bob Abbott said Mills began throwing punches, which prompted EMTs to back off and law enforcement to step in.
Deputy Jason Wiedebush ordered Mills to relent and was warned that if he did not comply he would be shocked with the Tazer, the deputy’s affidavit said. As Mills hopped through a passage separating the cab and the patient compartment, Wiedebush deployed the stun weapon.
But the wires attached to the probes imbedded in Mills broke and Wiedebush bailed out of a side door when Mills put the vehicle into gear and began to speed away, the affidavit said. Mills hit a tree after driving about 20 feet, hit more trees about 15 feet later and then fled into the woods.
After about 40 minutes, deputies took Mills into custody. He was treated for moderate to severe hypothermia, Abbott said.
Bonner EMS officials declined to speculate what caused Mills to go ballistic, although court documents indicate there was suspicion that it was drug-induced due to the volatility of the event. A toxicology screen only detected the presence of marijuana in his system, however.
Mills told deputies he was not suicidal and did not suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, court documents indicate.
Wakeley said it’s standard procedure to keep an ambulance running while tending to a patient during wintertime EMS calls and that his personnel followed combative patient protocols closely.
“It’s a difficult thing for the providers when you’re restraining someone because you don’t want to hurt them,” Wakeley said.
The 2004 Ford ambulance sustained about $2,500 in damage.