Man accused of leading police on chase in stolen HFD ambulance faces 2 felony charges

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Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Man accused of leading HPD on chase in ambulance faces 2 felonies
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According to court documents, the 29-year-old drove up to 55 mph, ran several red lights, and drove into oncoming traffic during the pursuit. Officials believe the suspect was in a state of crisis.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A man accused of leading police on a chase in a stolen Houston Fire Department ambulance on Monday has been charged.

Troy Patrick Lopez, 29, of Needville, Texas, is charged with felony evading arrest and theft.

Lopez is accused of stealing an HFD ambulance from a fire station in the Second Ward before leading Houston police on a chase.

According to court documents, Lopez drove up to 55 mph, ran several red lights, and drove into oncoming traffic during the pursuit.

ORIGINAL REPORT: Police take down person behind wheel of stolen Houston Fire ambulance

After running over spike strips, the tires on the stolen ambulance eventually began to lose traction and became flat. Court documents say Lopez still tried to evade officers when he attempted to go around a vehicle, but he ended up crashing. That's when he was detained.

He's scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

The fire department first tweeted word of the stolen emergency vehicle at 1:36 p.m.

About an hour after the tweet, the fire department disclosed details about a chain of automobile thefts, starting in the Greater Heights area.

District Chief Steven Birkelbach told Eyewitness News that the suspect took a black Infiniti from the gas station in front of a Kroger near 11th and Shepherd. The thief then drove almost seven miles to the fire station located in the 2800 block of Navigation, where he interacted with a firefighter raising a flag.

After some words were exchanged, the suspect went into the third holding bay of the station, got into an ambulance, and took off, Birkelbach said. The ambulance supervisor heard the commotion, got into his own vehicle, and followed the ambulance.

The HFD vehicle went off on Navigation at the U.S. 59-Minute Maid Park split, where the chief said the supervisor lost the stolen ambulance.

Authorities did not know where the suspect was heading, and they were unable to track it since it was not on an actual service run.

SkyEye flew above the chase in the Rice Village area around 3 p.m. on Monday.

Police said road spikes were used to slow the ambulance down in the 5300 block of Greenbriar.

The fire department later confirmed the arrest and the return of the vehicle in the area of Rice and Greenbriar. Houston police added that their helicopter was able to pinpoint the ambulance in the area of the West Loop and Richmond, where pilots were able to relay information to patrol officers below.

Officials said they believe the suspect was in a state of crisis.

Surprisingly, Birkelbach, who has served 37 years in the department, said ambulance thefts are rare, but they happen a couple of times a year. Bottom line, he says, keys are not supposed to be left in the vehicles.

Officials said no injuries were reported.

WATCH: HFD district chief breaks down how ambulance was stolen