Date: August 24, 2004 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact:

Carrie Rodgers, (863) 534-6217 OR (863) 819-1856 Pager

Polk County Sheriff's Office Fatal Crash Involving Ambulance	

Polk County Sheriff's Traffic Homicide Deputies are conducting a traffic crash investigation this evening involving a Polk County ambulance.

The single-vehicle crash occurred at 5:25 p.m. on Monday, August 23, 2004. The ambulance, stationed out of ALS-12, Cypress Gardens, was transporting a patient in the Winter Haven area to Winter Haven Hospital, headed westbound on Dundee Road, or CR 542. After passing through the intersection at Carl Floyd Road, the ambulance driver apparently lost control, slid into the grass, overturned and crashed into a pine tree.

The ambulance driver, 41-year-old EMT Dawn Shaepert, was transported to Winter Haven Hospital in another ambulance. On board also were a patient, 37-year-old Bernadette Gregory of Waverly, and 33-year-old paramedic Michael Tomlinson.  Gregory and Tomlinson were both transported via helicopter to Lakeland Regional Medical Center. Gregory apparently did not suffer injuries from the crash, while Tomlinson suffered several broken bones to his face and body.

A firefighter who was on board assisting the paramedic was declared dead on scene.  The firefighter, 22-year-old Benjamin Matthew Lang, has been a Polk County firefighter at station 8, Cypress Gardens, for 3 years. He was single, and his parents reside in Polk County. He lived in Winter Haven. He was most recently assisting the community with relief efforts after Hurricane Charley. He was also EMT-certified and routinely rode with EMS to assist, as he was during this unfortunate incident.

The traffic crash investigation continues, and this information is preliminary.

Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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