PLAINS TWP. — A Nanticoke man was under the influence of marijuana when he crashed head-on with an ambulance last winter, injuring two emergency medical technicians and a patient who died just days later, according to charges.
State police said Lawrence Vanburen-Morgan, 29, of East Green Street, was driving a 2007 Toyota Sienna north on Route 315 when he crossed into on-coming traffic and collided with a Greater Pittston Regional ambulance Jan. 18.
The ambulance was being operated by EMT Michael Ankenbrand, 34, of Shavertown, police say. EMT Emmett Thomas, 50, of Kingston, and patient Margaret Milewski, 87, of Pittston, were also on board.
Ankenbrand, Thomas and Milewski were injured in the crash near the border of Laflin and Jenkins Township. A passenger in Vanburen-Morgan’s vehicle, Latasha Roland, 27, of Nanticoke, was not hurt.
Milewski died at her daughter’s residence in Susquehanna County just four days later on Jan. 22.
An autopsy was conducted by the Susquehanna County coroner’s office but results were not released pending the investigation into the crash.
A message left at the coroner’s office Wednesday to learn the cause and manner of Milewski’s death was not returned.
State police charged Vanburen-Morgan with two counts of accidents involving death or personal injury, and one count each of driving under the influence of a controlled substance, driving with a suspended license, three traffic violations and one vehicle code violation. The charges were filed with District Judge Joseph Spagnuolo Jr. in Plains Township on Tuesday.
Vanburen-Morgan has not been arraigned.
According to the criminal complaint:
A trooper attempted to question Vanburen-Morgan in the back of an ambulance after the crash. Vanburen-Morgan said he needed a few minutes because he could not remember anything.
Another trooper detected an odor of marijuana emitting from Vanburen-Morgan’s van.
He was transported to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center where a trooper questioned him about the crash and the marijuana odor in his vehicle.
Vanburen-Morgan claimed he didn’t remember and “wasn’t smoking marijuana in the car.”
His vehicle had an inspection sticker that expired in August 2016, and its insurance was canceled on May 3, 2017.
Vanburen-Morgan refused to submit to a blood test at the hospital.
So state police got a search warrant for his medical records and urine sample, which showed marijuana in his bloodstream.