3 dead after car runs red light and crashes into ambulance in Battle Creek

Posted at 4:29 AM, Feb 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-24 17:46:07-05

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – Three adults died in a violent crash early Tuesday morning in Battle Creek, when an ambulance rushing a man in cardiac arrest to Bronson Battle Creek Hospital crashed into a vehicle that ran a red light.

Around 1 a.m. Tuesday, the Lifecare Ambulance was driving northbound on North Avenue with its sirens on, when a vehicle headed westbound on Garfield Avenue ran a red flashing light and stop sign. Officers said the ambulance was unable to stop in time and ran into that vehicle.

Officers identified the driver of that vehicle as Shirley A. Stokes, 61, and her passenger as James E. Stokes, 54. Both died at the scene. According to Secretary of State officials, Shirley had a driving record that included several license suspensions, and her license was just reinstated Feb. 10.

A second ambulance rushed the man in cardiac arrest to Bronson Battle Creek Hospital, but David L. Simpson, 54, died shortly after in the hospital.

Beverly Simpson is David’s wife. She told FOX 17 they would have celebrated 30 years of marriage next month. Beverly followed David’s ambulance about 20 minutes behind; she said no officials told her that her husband was in this accident.

“To find out this way,” said Beverly. “And to think he might have been saved."

They were the couple always together until Tuesday morning, when she said she lost her “best friend.”

“And we did everything together, 24/7 we were together, and that’s what’s tough,” said Beverly. “He loved his yard, his yard was his baby in the spring, and everybody would drive by and say you have the best looking yard in the neighborhood.”

In the hospital, Beverly said the doctor told her that he could not save her husband, but no word of the accident.

“No one, no one coming to tell me that there had been an accident, nothing,” said Beverly. “What do you do? He’s gone. We have to go forward.”

Now she remembers her husband but with a heavy heart, asking the "what if's" that may never be answered.

“Maybe the heart just got tired last night, I guess that’s what I have to think,” said Beverly. “We had a good life.”

Battle Creek Fire Department Chief Dave Schmaltz said two of their firefighters rode in that ambulance to assist. They, along with two Lifecare Ambulance paramedics, had minor injuries but are resting at home and expected to recover.

“The (firefighters) said that once the vehicles impacted it was a free fall basically, bodies were being tossed around until things came to a stop, and even that took them a little bit to get their senses back together and go from there,” said Schmaltz.

Lifecare Ambulance officials released this statement:

“The collective thoughts and prayers of the Lifecare Ambulance Service family are with the families of those involved and the ambulance and fire fighters who were injured in this crash.

Our staff, and other public safety professionals like them, dedicate themselves every day to provide quality, compassionate care to our community.

We want to express our sorrow and sadness about this situation. We’re hopeful for healing, and we will do whatever we can to offer support in this time of need. We are cooperating with the police department as they continue their investigation of this crash.”

For now, Beverly said she would like to hear from officers or hospital officials about what happened.