Police chase, catch ambulance stealer

Published 2:36 pm Tuesday, April 17, 2018

It was a wild Sunday night for Bainbridge Public Safety and Decatur County Sheriff’s Office after a woman stole a Bainbridge Memorial Hospital ambulance and took it on a joyride.

Alicia Barrineau, 35, had called Bainbridge Public Safety several times earlier in the night. She originally thought a suspicious person was in her home, but around 5 p.m. she began to feel anxious and went into Bainbridge Memorial Hospital for a mental evaluation, BPS officer Charles Strickland said.

While at the hospital, Barrineau reported she overheard nurses talking about her. She then left the room and refused service. She called BPS officers to inform them of the situation, and Officer Strickland returned.

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Strickland said he offered to give Barrineau a ride to her home, but she was unsure of her address and did not feel safe there. He then offered to take her to Walmart to walk around and try to calm down and collect her thoughts. Barrineau agreed to let Strickland take her to Walmart, but as she was about to get in his patrol vehicle she said heard a noise and was not getting in.

Unsure of what to do next, Strickland gave Barrineau the crisis hotline number so she could talk her fear over with someone else. Strickland reported Barrineau dialed the number and then immediately hung up.

As this was happening, an ambulance pulled up to the emergency room with a patient inside. Strickland saw Barrineau look at the ambulance, before she began walking back inside the hospital. Strickland informed the EMS drivers Barrineau would probably ask for a ride home, because she did not feel comfortable in the patrol car.

Once Strickland made sure Barrineau was back inside the hospital and being watched by the staff, he went to his next call about a noise complaint. Strickland said he was pulling into the call when he got a call from EMS that their ambulance had been stolen.

Strickland saw the ambulance driving down Evans Street and turn south on College St. it was being followed by the lights and sirens from officer Tarrow Barney and officer Jason Barlow.

Barrineau kept at a steady speed until she got to the city limits, where she sped up to 80 mph. That is when BPS had some of their officers return back to base and kept Strickland and his rider, officer Ladaric Jones following Barrineau.

Decatur County Sheriff’s Office entered the scene once she passed city limits. Officer Matt Reynolds, along with the help of dispatchers was able to talk to Barrineau and told her to pull over. She asked what would happen to her, if she did and officers repeatedly told her nothing would happen.

Finally, Barrineau pulled over in the middle of the road in Attapulgus. She jumped out of the car and ran by the driver door of Officer Reynolds vehicle, where he arrested her.

When asked why she did it, Barrineau revealed she did have a meth problem. She had stopped doing meth a few days ago, but couldn’t remember when. Strickland said she never had any motivation to go to Florida, because she had no family or friends there. Barrineau just wanted to get away and her mind was all over the place, so the best she could think to do was flee.

Decatur County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Donalson said nothing surprises him anymore, but this situation was definitely unique.

Strickland agreed, “I’ve never had somebody steal an ambulance from the hospital at 5 a.m. then just stop in the middle in the road and turn themselves in.”

Barrineau was charged with theft by taking and failure to stop.