Driver Who Plowed Into Ambulance Sentenced To Up To 6 Months In Jail
WILKES-BARRE - The driver who plowed head-on into an ambulance while high on marijuana earlier this year in Laflin will spend up to six months in jail for causing the crash that injured two crew members. Lawrence Vanburen-Morgan, 30, pleaded guilty last month in connection with the crash on Route 315 involving a Greater Pittston Regional Ambulance. Two ambulance association personnel, paramedic Emmett Thomas, of Kingston, and driver Michael Ankenband, of Shavertown, were injured in the wreck. Thomas was initially knocked unconscious. Both testified in court Thursday at Vanburen-Morgan’s sentencing before Luzerne County Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. Sklarosky sentenced him to 72 hours to 6 months in prison. He has to report to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility on Friday morning. Ankenbrand said he and his partner are still traumatized by the crash. “There is only one word to describe it. Violent,” Ankenbrand said. An 87-year-old patient who was being transported died a week after the crash, but an autopsy determined her death was unrelated and due to natural causes. Vanburen-Morgan pleaded guilty to first-offense driving under the influence of a controlled substance, two counts of accidents involving death of personal injury while not properly licensed and driving with a suspended license. Sklarosky said he thought there could have been more severe charges. “It almost seems to this court there should be more serious charges, but they are what they are,” Sklarosky said. Vanburen-Morgan apologized to the victims in court, claiming he doesn’t remember anything about that day following a relative’s funeral. “My intentions were never to hurt anyone,” Vanburen-Morgan said. The crash took place the evening of Jan. 18, just south of the intersection in front of the Oblates of St. Joseph Seminary. According to police, Vanburen-Morgan’s Toyota Sienna had been northbound on Route 315 while the ambulance was heading south in the far right lane. Vanburen-Morgan swerved into the southbound lane and hit the ambulance head-on. Investigators at the scene noted Vanburen-Morgan’s car smelled of marijuana smoke, police said. Vanburen-Morgan told troopers he “wasn’t smoking marijuana in the car” and said he didn’t remember when he had last smoked pot, troopers said in arrest papers. Vanburen-Morgan refused to provide a blood sample for testing, but troopers got a search warrant for his urine and medical records, which revealed he was under the influence of marijuana at the time, troopers said.