Man suing over crash caused by allegedly drunken ambulance driver

SHARE Man suing over crash caused by allegedly drunken ambulance driver

John Lara | photo from Cook County Sheriff’s office

A man hurt in an Uptown crash caused by an allegedly drunken ambulance driver filed a negligence lawsuit Tuesday against both the driver and the private ambulance company that employed him.

Douglas Deuter filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court against the driver, John Lara, and the company he worked for, Arlington Heights-based Care 1 Ambulance.

About 10:45 a.m. Dec. 9, 2013, Lara was driving southbound on Clark Street in a private ambulance with his siren blaring when he struck Deuter’s 2012 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck, which was driving west on Montrose Avenue, police said at the time.

Deuter, who was 43 years old at the time, suffered a minor head injury and Lara suffered an injury to his back, according to police and the lawsuit. Both were taken in “stable” condition to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

There were no passengers in the ambulance at the time of the crash.

After the crash, Lara’s blood alcohol content was measured at .271, or about three times the legal limit, authorities claim.

Lara, 33, of Lockport, was charged with aggravated DUI causing great bodily harm. He was ordered held on $300,000 bond and is next scheduled to appear in court Aug. 1, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s office.

The lawsuit alleges Lara’s Illinois driver’s license had previously been suspected from May 2007 to November 2007 because he refused a breathalyzer test. It also claims he was stopped at least four times in the state for driving without a valid driver’s license.

The suit claims Care 1 Ambulance should have known Lara was unfit for his job, and that the company did not perform a background check before hiring him.

The four-count lawsuit claims negligence and negligent hiring, among other things. Deuter is seeking an undisclosed amount in damages.

“John Lara acted on his own without any discretion or any knowledge from Care 1,” said Sun Shin, operational manager of Care 1 Ambulance. “John acted on his own and is fully responsible.”

Shin declined to respond to the lawsuit’s claims when reached Tuesday evening.

“When the time comes we will answer to the lawsuit,” he said.

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