fatal ambulance crash I-40

Photo: MNPD

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) -- The children of Nyema Jackson filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the ambulance driver and healthcare company transporting her from Jackson to Nashville when she died in a crash on Nov. 30.

The private ambulance, operated by West Tennessee Healthcare, Inc., was traveling eastbound on I-40 near Charlotte Avenue when the driver, Deborah Schichtel, lost control of the vehicle and hit a rock wall.

The patient in the ambulance, 36-year-old Nyema Jackson of Jackson, Tenn., and the medic in the rear of the ambulance, 36-year-old Zachary Pruitt of Humbolt, Tenn., were ejected from the vehicle. They were transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in critical condition where they later died.

Schichtel, 55, of Holladay, Tenn., received non-life threatening injuries in the crash.

According to police, it was raining at the time of the crash and Schichtel told them she hydroplaned while trying to negotiate a curve in the road.

After a preliminary investigation, Metro police determined that "excessive speed" and weather conditions were the primary causes of the fatal accident.

Witnesses also told police that the ambulance did not have emergency equipment activated at the time of the crash.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Jackson's children, Nyjah Ingram and Jahryn Long, by Nyjah's natural father, Maurice Ingram. The suit names both Schichtel and West Tennessee Healthcare, Inc. as defendants.

The lawsuit claims that the "proximate cause of Jackson's injuries, damages, suffering, and death, was the negligence of Defendant Schichtel, who was negligent by failing to maintain a proper lookout; by failing to maintain proper control of her vehicle; by driving too fast for the road conditions; by failing to make use of the proper visual and audible emergency signals; by disregarding her duty to use due care for the safety of all persons; and by recklessly disregarding the safety of others."

According to the lawsuit, because Schichtel was "acting as Defendant West Tennessee Healthcare, Inc.'s servant or agent," the company is also liable for her alleged negligence.

The lawsuit requests a jury trial in order to determine how much money Jackson's children should be awarded in damages. 

According to police, their investigation into the crash is active and ongoing. Once police have presented their findings to the District Attorney's Office, the DA will determine if criminal charges should be filed against Schichtel in the accident.

Stay with News4 for updates.

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