The woman who allegedly led police on a wild chase after stealing an ambulance parked in front of a downtown San Francisco emergency is out of jail today, after a judge granted her "supervised release" following her not guilty plea Thursday.
As previously reported, 37-year-old Veronica Barahona allegedly hopped into a San Francisco Fire Department ambulance as it was parked in front of the Ambassador Hotel by paramedics responding to a medical emergency Tuesday
When the paramedics left the hotel, located at 55 Mason, at around 8 a.m., the ambulance was gone. Police located the vehicle (which was equipped with a tracking device) and followed it across the Bay Bridge. A woman prosecutors say was Barahona wrecked the vehicle near Treasure Island, in a crash serious enough that the ambulance burst into dramatic flames. She was uninjured in the wreck, and was detained by police at the scene.
Crews currently working to clear I-80 eb TI exit. Expect delays on bridge. pic.twitter.com/hyn3fri7ax— CHP San Francisco (@CHPSanFrancisco) June 7, 2016
In court yesterday, Deputy Public Defender Ariana Downing gave more insight into Barahona's life, saying that she is a mother of three who has struggled with addiction for years. According to Bay City News, Downing says that Barahona "was working to get her life in order earlier this year and earned a certification to be a forklift driver and work in a warehouse, but recently relapsed."
While prosecutors asked that Barahona's bail be set at $75,000, Judge Charles Crompton instead granted her supervised release, saying that she needed "treatment more than incarceration."
Meanwhile, according to spokesperson Jonathan Baxter, the SFFD is still trying to figure out what from the $225,000 ambulance can be salvaged. The blackened vehicle, which BCN reports was "among the oldest in the department’s 54-vehicle fleet and was likely to be replaced in August when nine new ambulances are scheduled to arrive," was despite its age still considered necessary.
"Whether it’s a brand new ambulance or one of the oldest," Baxter says, "it’s something that is a resource and a valuable tool for the department."
According to the San Francisco Police Department spokesperson Sargeant Michael Andraychak, Barahona has "no local address," so it's unclear where she'll be staying during her release period. She faces felony charges of "vehicle theft and theft of a special vehicle (ambulance)," and has pled not guilty to both.
Previously: Just How, Exactly, Did An SF Woman Steal That Ambulance Yesterday?