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Woman accused of stealing ambulance when she couldn’t find ride home from hospital

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CONCORD TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Employees of a Northeast Ohio ambulance company were bewildered to discover someone stole their ambulance outside TriPoint Medical Center.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office said two employees of Tri-County Ambulance had been dispatched to the hospital to pick up a patient for transport to the Cleveland Clinic.

They left the ambulance running to keep it warm and left the door unlocked.

At the same time, a Painesville woman was leaving the hospital and authorities said she was upset because she could not get a ride.  "She goes out, hears the ambulance running, checks the door, finds out that it's not secured; she decides that that's the ride to wherever she wants to go," said Sheriff Dan Dunlap.

Tri-County Ambulance was able to track the stolen vehicle through an on-board GPS and relayed the information to Willoughby Hills police, who caught up with the vehicle, which was traveling nearly 90 miles an hour on I-90 near 271.

Jennette Richelle Askew, 40, eventually pulled over and was arrested for theft of a motor vehicle.

Painesville Municipal Court Judge Michael Cicconetti has seen nearly everything in his many years on the bench, but Askew is the first defendant accused of stealing an ambulance.  She is also facing a charge of disrupting public service.  Judge Cicconetti placed Askew under house arrest at the home of her mother.

The sheriff is hoping the unusual incident will convince all emergency personnel that they must always make sure their vehicles are secured.

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