Troopers: Ambulance driver distracted before fatal crash

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MANSFIELD, Ohio-The FOX 8 I-Team has learned that an ambulance driver has admitted to investigators that she was using the GPS on her phone, at the time of a deadly crash.

The accident happened on Friday night, when a Community Care Ambulance transporting 56-year-old Michael Willis from University Hospitals to a Columbus hospital, veered off I-71 South near the Route 13 exit outside Mansfield, crashed through a guardrail, careened down an embankment and then rolled over several times.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol says Michael Willis was ejected from the ambulance and thrown a considerable distance. The Richland County coroner says Willis died from blunt force trauma to his body.

The driver of the ambulance, 30-year-old Amber Brown of Cleveland, and EMT James Phillips of Garfield Heights, were treated for their injuries and released.

Investigators say when Amber Brown was questioned by troopers, she admitted that she was distracted at the time of the deadly crash. Lt. Chad Enderby told the I-Team, "she was looking at a GPS device, stated that she was attempting to get their time of arrival in Columbus, when she drifted off the right side of the roadway."

The Ohio State Highway Patrol says Amber Brown's phone has been seized by investigators, who will now try to determine if it was also being used for texting or a phone call at the time of the accident. "We will send that to our computer crime unit in Columbus and they will analyze that, and verify if that statement is true," said Lt. Enderby.

Investigators are also checking the vehicle's on-board computer, to try and establish how fast it was traveling at the time of the crash.

Community Care Ambulance, based in Ashtabula, issued a statement on Saturday that reads, "we want to express our sorrow and sadness about the situation. We are doing everything we can to cooperate."