Alabama man arrested after allegedly stealing an ambulance dies

An Alabama man arrested earlier this year after allegedly stealing an ambulance at Erlanger hospital and later crashing it into a patrol car has died.

Timothy Burt, 66, of Fort Payne, was detained after Hamilton County deputies and Chattanooga police officers responded to a call about an ambulance being stolen by a hospital patient, according to an affidavit.

Burt was in custody at the Silverdale Detention Center when he was taken to the hospital and was released on his own recognizance while there on Aug. 29, Sheriff’s Office spokesman J. Matt Lea said.

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“Timothy Burt was in our custody but was sent to a local medical facility for a medical-related issue,” Lea said in an email to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “He eventually passed away at a local medical facility.”

The case against Burt was dismissed by Hamilton County General Sessions Judge Gary Starnes on Sept. 2 after the court was notified of Burt’s death.

(READ MORE: Reassigned Chattanooga police officers had policy violations as recently as this year)

On June 30, the responding officer, Jonah Odenthal, “witnessed the ambulance run a red light at East Third (Street) and North Holtzclaw Avenue, creating a traffic hazard for oncoming traffic,” according to the affidavit. “The ambulance traveled an extended distance in oncoming traffic lanes before merging back into the correct lane.

Chattanooga Police Officer Joseph Sanchez — who was working an extra job at the Erlanger emergency room at the time the ambulance was stolen — was already in pursuit of the ambulance when Odenthal arrived at the scene to assist.

Sanchez used his patrol vehicle to stop the ambulance from continuing to travel down Holtzclaw Avenue, according to the affidavit.

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“It then struck Officer Sanchez’s patrol vehicle, causing disabling damage, before coming to (a) stop,” the affidavit said. “Officer Sanchez later stated he was concerned that the actions were going to cause him bodily harm.”

The estimated value of the ambulance was $250,000, according to the affidavit.

Contact La Shawn Pagán at or 423-757-6476. Follow her on Twitter @LaShawnPagan.

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