It was a call just after midnight that has shaken first responders across northern New York. They were called to rescue their own.
"It's like a nightmare," said Chris Trombley with Champlain EMS.
Just like he had done hundreds of times over the years for Champlain EMS, Eric Monty, 45, was driving a patient to the hospital to be treated for chest pains. Two EMTs, both unbelted, were in the back of the ambulance treating the patient. But the trip took a tragic detour on a slight curve on the Military Turnpike in Altona.
"The ambulance continued straight down the embankment and actually came back up onto the road and came back onto the roadway," N.Y. State Police Capt. Brent Gillam said.
Right after the accident, the patient who was being transported to the hospital ran across the street and pounded on the door of a home to wake up the homeowner and asked them to call 911. He was banged up and was not wearing a shirt or shoes.
"It's until something like this happens that you realize this is a risky business," Trombley said.
Monty, the driver, was dead. The patient, Gary Lamarche, 55, and one of the EMTs, Susan Roberts, 52, are in stable condition at the hospital. Roberts is Monty's sister. The other EMT, Peter Coulombe, 26, is in critical condition with a traumatic brain injury.
"We are humans like everybody else," Trombley said. "We are out helping people and sometimes we become victims, too, and that is hard to swallow."
The autopsy revealed Monty suffered a fatal heart attack behind the wheel and police say that caused the crash.
"There is no indication the ambulance was going any faster than it should have been at the time," Gillam said.
Monty will be remembered for his commitment, willing to get behind the wheel of an ambulance at any hour of the day. He leaves behind a daughter, who also just lost her mother.
"Eric was a special kind of person," Trombley said. "He had a lot struggles personally. He lost his wife to cancer a couple of years ago. I think he saw the difference EMS made through the years as EMS helped his wife."
A volunteer who lost his life doing his job saving lives.
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