Have you ever been so badly injured you stole an ambulance?
If reports about Christopher Beard, a homeless man in the Mineral County Jail, are correct, he has.
Beard broke into the Walker Lake firehouse on Aug. 9 using a board he found near one of the homes down the road, said B.J. Foster, Walker Lake fire chief.
Foster said he hadn’t heard Beard’s name until after he gave an interview.
“Sometime between 10 [p.m.] and 2 a.m. he came down here, found a board probably from the house behind the station and broke both of these windows out,” Foster said, referring to the pane windows on the front of the station. “Why he did that, I don’t know. He could have broken one, but he broke both out.”
Beard slithered into the firehouse, Foster said, and ate a bowl of Cheerios and coffee creamer—the station was out of milk.
Beard may also have been looking for bandages. He later claimed he was attacked by a dog near Walker Lake.
After his midnight snack, Beard searched the office for the keys to the firehouse’s apparatus floor—the technical term for garage. When his search turned up nothing, Beard broke into the garage with an old bronze fire hose nozzle, Foster said.
Damage to the door indicates Beard initially tried to bludgeon his way into the garage with the nozzle, but eventually gave up and smashed the door handle off.
“He made his way through the apparatus floor to the light switch, got the lights turned on, he opened the door in front of the ambulance, and figured out how to turn it on,” Foster said.
Foster didn’t want to describe how to start an ambulance on the record for security reasons, but the process is remarkably complex.
After starting the ambulance, Beard drove to Mt. Grant General Hospital in Hawthorne.
When he arrived at the ambulance bay, employees noticed Beard was not a member of any of the Mineral County emergency services, Foster said.
“They immediately called [the Mineral County Sheriff’s Department,] and the sheriffs took him into custody,” Foster said.
Beard was treated for an injury on his leg and released to the Mineral County Jail. Beard surrendered the ambulance’s keys to the deputy who arrested him, Foster said.
“The individual who took the ambulance knew what he had done and knew that it was wrong,” Foster said.
Foster said he learned of the break in at about 2 a.m. when T.C. Knight, Mineral County Fire Chief, called and asked to meet Foster at the Walker Lake firehouse.
Foster thought there was a fire at first, and Knight was calling him to help put out flames in Schurz. But, when he pulled into the firehouse and saw the broken windows, he began to realize what happened.
“I was just like ‘What’s going on?’ and [Knight and the sheriff’s deputy who arrested Beard] were like ‘Your ambulance was stolen, but we got it back,’” Foster said.
Foster said there is no security at the firehouse, and keys are commonly left in emergency vehicles because the doors leading to them are locked of how difficult they are to start.