No charges in deadly Indianapolis ambulance crash
Eyewitness News has learned a woman involved in a deadly ambulance crash that killed two medics has left town, even as prosecutors say she won't face charges in the crash.
Cody Medley and Tim McCormick were riding in the ambulance when police say a driver, 21-year-old Jade Hammer, ran a red light, sending the ambulance onto its side. Medley and McCormick were killed.
Hammer's attorney John Tompkins told Eyewitness News his client left the city two days after the February 16 crash. He said Hammer hasn't been back since and he wasn't sure she ever would be.
The 21-year-old art student admitted to police she had been drinking before she ran a flashing red light and crashed into the ambulance where McCormick and Medley were coming back from a run.
The investigation found that Hammer admitted to drinking alcohol before the crash, and her blood alcohol level was subsequently determined to be .038, below the threshold legal limit of .08.
Prosecutor Curry said the decision not to file criminal charges was based on several considerations after review of all evidence gathered from the crash investigation, including Hammer's blood alcohol level, her absence of impairment and the speed of the vehicles.
"This was clearly a tragic accident, and we again extend our sympathies to the families and friends of Cody Medley and Tim McCormick," Curry said. "However, we do not believe that the circumstances of the accident rise to the level of a crime."
A separate toxicology screen found no evidence of other substances in Hammer's blood.
The paramedics were not on an emergency run, but instead were returning from a completed run. Both vehicles were traveling on downtown streets where the posted speed limit is 30 mph. Hammer was traveling about 35-40 miles per hour, while the ambulance was going 45-50 miles per hour when the crash occurred.
The prosecutor says while Hammer did fail to stop for a flashing red light at the intersection where the crash occurred, such traffic violation does not rise to the level of criminal recklessness. Failure to obey a traffic signal device is a Class C infraction.
"It is exactly what Terry Curry called it. Very unfortunately, sometimes, traffic infractions end up in death. That does not make the facts different. It also does not make dealing with the loss any easier," said Tompkins.
Hammer learned she wouldn't be charged criminally for the crash that killed McCormick and Medley from Tompkins via a phone call.
"It makes a difficult situation, which remains difficult, much less stressful, but a big, big relief," said Tompkins.
The attorney said Hammer was in Florida where her parents live. Tompkins said Hammer left town only after he checked with the prosecutor's office and made sure criminal charges weren't imminent.
"She's quite shaken up, uncertain if she can come back to Indiana. She's not going to restart school until after this semester is over, so it's really been a huge impact on her life," said Tompkins.
Criminal recklessness law
By Indiana law, criminal recklessness requires "conduct in plain, conscious, and unjustifiable disregard of harm that might result and the disregard involves a substantial deviation from acceptable standards of conduct."
In construing such law, the Indiana Supreme Court has held proof that an accident arose out of the lack of attention of the driver of a vehicle or from an error of judgment on his or her part will not support a charge of reckless homicide.
As recently as 2009, the Indiana Supreme Court held that failure to stop at a red light due to inadvertence or an error of judgment, without more, does not constitute recklessness as a matter of law.
McCormick's mother told Eyewitness News on the phone Tim's family still loved the Indianapolis community, but that they had nothing to say to this kind of news right now.
Indianapolis EMS statement
Dr. Charles Miramonti, chief of Indianapolis EMS, issued the following statement Thursday:
"Indianapolis EMS thanks Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry and his office and the entire FACT team for the diligence, compassion, and professionalism they consistently demonstrated throughout their investigation. Their efforts serve to bring closure to this tragic chapter in our history and our personal lives. Our thoughts and prayers go out to not only the families and loved ones of our beloved Tim and Cody, but also to Jade Hammond and her family. I continue to also be grateful to the IEMS Family and Public Safety Department, for the strength and resolve you have shown during this time of pain and grief. I could not be more proud of our service and the men and women who truly make it extraordinary."