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Man arrested after brief ride in Long Beach ambulance, police say


A man was arrested early Monday after police say he stole a Long Beach Fire Department ambulance and drove away, authorities said.

Los Angeles police officers stopped the ambulance just before 3 a.m. Monday less than two miles from the San Pedro hospital, where authorities say the man stole the vehicle, said Officer Melissa Podany, an LAPD spokeswoman. .

The man, whom Podany identified as Fernández Zúñiga, had initially been taken to Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center for undisclosed treatment hours earlier, before stealing the ambulance, authorities said. Podany said he did not know Zúñiga’s age or when he was initially taken to the hospital.

Officers were able to quickly locate the stolen ambulance and arrested Zuniga on West 18th Street, Podany said. She said at least one officer suffered a minor injury while detaining Zuniga with “minor use of force.” She did not elaborate on what kind of force was used.

There were no firefighters or paramedics in the vehicle at the time of the theft, said Capt. Jake Heflin, spokesman for the Long Beach Fire Department. He declined to say how Zuniga gained access to it, but said the agency team was transferring his patient to the hospital when the ambulance was pulled out of the outer bay.

“Unfortunately, our vehicle sustained some minor damage to the front end and some scratches,” Heflin said. He said that all personnel and equipment were accounted for.

Zuniga was arrested on suspicion of grand theft auto, Podany said.

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