Utica Police: Buffalo woman facing felony charges after stealing ambulance in CNY

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Buffalo woman is facing multiple charges after police say she stole an ambulance from Central New York Sunday.

According to Utica Police, Vanessa Armstead wandered into an open garage bay at the Kunkel Ambulance company downtown. The 32-year-old Buffalo woman then allegedly stole the vehicle when she found the keys inside.

Officers arrived on scene and were able to track the ambulance through a GPS system; they found Armstead was heading west on the I-90.

New York State Police attempted to stop the stolen ambulance but when Armstead refused to pull over, a chase broke out.

It ended after Armstead pulled off the thruway onto an exit near Rochester. She then crashed the ambulance into the Irondequoit Bay and had to be rescued by boaters.

Utica Police Sergeant Michael Curley tells us Armstead had been in the area after she got into a car accident just outside of Utica on Saturday. She had been treated and released from a nearby hospital right before this incident occurred.

“I believe at that point she was in an unfamiliar situation. Utica – she has no ties to this particular area that we can find, and for whatever reason she came up with, in her mind, her only route back to [Buffalo] was to steal an ambulance and lead police on a chase,” Curley said.

Police also believe Armstead has been involved in a previous police chase. A woman with the same name and matching her age led Amherst officers on a chase following a burglary at the Boulevard Mall.

Armstead is facing felony burglary and grand larceny charges. She’s currently being held at the Monroe County Jail.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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