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Brick Woman, 2 Others Hospitalized After Minivan Rear-Ends Ambulance

A minivan that rear-ended an ambulance in Manchester. (Photo: Manchester PD)

A minivan that rear-ended an ambulance in Manchester. (Photo: Manchester PD)

A Brick Township woman was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center after her car rear-ended an ambulance on Route 70 in Manchester Tuesday, setting her car ablaze.

The 9:10 a.m. accident occurred at Route 70 and Colonial Drive, said Manchester Police Capt. Todd Malland. Police officers arrived at the scene to find a 2004 Toyota minivan on fire, Malland said. The officers were unable to extinguish the flames, which were ultimately put out by the township’s volunteer fire department.

The post-fire investigation revealed that the minivan, being driven by  Lee W. Smith, 60, of Brick, was traveling west on Route 70 when it struck the rear of a 2006 Ford E Series Ambulance owned by Quality Medical Transport of Bayville, Malland said. The ambulance, which was not being utilized to transport a patient, was stopped for a red light at the intersection of Route 70 and Colonial Drive at the time of the crash. The minivan’s impact with the ambulance then caused it to strike the rear of a 1997, Ford Ranger pick-up which was also stopped at the light.

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Smith was transported by members of the Manchester Township Volunteer First Aid Squad to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune, for a complaint of chest pain.

His immediate condition is not known. The two occupants of the Quality Medical Transport Ambulance, Steven Purtell, 20, of Forked River, and Hlif Gabrish, 32, of Waretown, were transported to Community Medical Center in Toms River for complaints of neck and back pain. The driver of the Ford Ranger, Jose Chacon, 37, of Lakewood, was not injured in the crash.

Route 70 was closed for approximately one hour after the accident while the investigation and clean-up was taking place. The crash is being investigated by Patrolman Douglas Higgins of the Manchester Township Police Department’s Traffic Safety Section.