FORT MYERS, Fla. - We've learned the driver of a Lee County ambulance will not be criminally charged for his role in a crash that killed an unborn baby. The State Attorney's Office has charged that ambulance driver, Harris Berenson, with aggressive careless driving in the February 26th crash, but, says the facts do not support a charge of vehicular homicide.
Kristina Childs' injuries may be healing, but her heart is still broken. "My life changed February 26th," Childs said. "I'll never forget that date."
She lost her unborn son that day when a Lee County ambulance ran a stop sign at Veronica Shoemaker Boulevard and Canal Street, crashing into her SUV.
Berenson told Fort Myers Police investigators: "While I was driving, I noticed a stop sign late. I was pretty much right on it by the time I saw it. At the same time I saw the stop sign, I saw a car coming across the intersection in front of me. I hit the brakes trying to slow down. I did not initially slam the brakes because I have people in the back. When I realized I wouldn't be able to stop at the time, I hit them harder and the wheels locked up and the truck skidded through. I tried to turn to the left to avoid impact but I impacted the middle of the intersection."
Ambulance data reveals the vehicle was traveling 57 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour zone. They were transporting a patient but a paramedic inside said lights and siren were not activated because it was not considered an "emergency situation."
The State Attorney's Office finalized its review of the case, charging Berenson with aggressive careless driving but claimed the facts do not support criminal charges. "I am a little upset about the decision," Childs said. "I don't think it would've changed anything. I'm just upset. Maybe I need an apology. Maybe I need to talk to him. Maybe I want to see if there is remorse in him."
Despite her disappointment, Kristina Childs continues to focus on the baby she lost and on her efforts to change that intersection. "It can be solved by a light," Childs said. "If not a regular light, a flashing caution light. Stop, warning, light's coming up. Something needs to be done. I lost something very close to me and I want to do everything I can so it doesn't happen to anybody else."
"It was an unfortunate situation. Due to litigation, we cannot comment further," said Rob Farmer, Lee County Public Safety Director.
This is one of two first responder-related crashes this year that have resulted in the deaths of unborn babies. Also back in February, Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Gustavo Reyes smashed into the back of the McClure family's car on I-75. According to the FHP report, Reyes was distracted by his computer. Similar to the ambulance crash, he faces a careless driving charge but no criminal charges.
How does the state attorney come to that decision? They say in order for a criminal charge of vehicular homicide to be filed, there must be proof of a "willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons of property." The essential question is, whether someone "knowingly drove in such a manner that would likely cause death or bodily harm."