Sgt. Aaron Belcher of the patrol’s Chardon post said a Jeep driven by 36-year-old Jason Slepsky of Chardon failed to yield to the ambulance.
The preliminary investigation shows the ambulance was southbound on state Route 528 while the Jeep Wrangler was eastbound on Chardon-Windsor Road.
“The Jeep Wrangler failed to yield to the ambulance, striking the ambulance at the intersection. After impact at the intersection, the Jeep Wrangler caught on fire and the ambulance traveled off the right side of the roadway where it overturned,” said Belcher.
At the time, the ambulance was taking 47-year-old William Maley, of Dorset Township, to a local hospital on a medical call.
The highway patrol said Maley was pronounced dead at the scene, having succumbed to injuries suffered in the crash.
The medic driving the ambulance was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for minor injuries and released.
Chief Shaun Buehner of the South Central Ambulance District said the driver of the ambulance had no chance to react before the collision.
“He had no chance to swerve or hit the brakes. Before they knew it, they were on their side and the driver was calling for mutual assistance,” said Buehner.
The paramedic attending to Maley in the back of the ambulance, identified as Jesse Sopko, suffered serious injuries and was flown to University Hospitals in Cleveland where he underwent surgery on Tuesday afternoon.
Buehner told FOX 8 News Sopko had been working full-time for the regional ambulance district since April and part-time for the Madison Fire District, describing him as a true asset to their department.
Sopko was said to have suffered several broken bones, vertebrae and other traumatic injuries which his chief said were more serious than were first believed to have been at the scene.
On Tuesday morning, Slepsky, who was able to get out of his burning Jeep with no serious injuries, appeared in Chardon Municipal Court, charged with one count of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of aggravated vehicular assault.
His attorney entered a plea of not guilty on the charges.
Although the highway patrol said investigators believe drugs and alcohol played a part in the crash, in court, Slepsky’s attorney said he tested below the legal threshold on a portable test at the scene and was asked to provide a urine test — the results of which had not yet been determined.
Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz asked for the court to set bond at $300,000.
“There was a portable test that was under, but the defendant also admitted that he’s prescribed Zoloft and admitted to marijuana use, prior marijuana use, which is why the urine screen was taken,” said Flaiz.
Judge Terri Stupika set bond at $500,000.
The highway patrol said the crash remains under investigation.