LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Jeff Johnson was on his way to work when his car broke down on I-5 near Griffith Park.

Stranded along the median, his car was slammed into by an ambulance.

CBS2’s Kristine Lazar reports why the ambulance didn’t stop: The driver was so tired that he might have fallen asleep at the wheel with a patient and a paramedic in the back.

Since the accident, Johnson has faced mounting medical bills from back surgery to correct damage done during the crash. He sued. And what he and his attorneys discovered in video taken from inside the ambulance’s cab shocked them.

In the minutes before the crash, the driver can be seen trying to stay awake.

Under California law, private ambulance companies are allowed to schedule drivers for 24-hour shifts.

“I think it’s crazy.  You shouldn’t be up 24 hours driving anything,” said Brian Kabatek, Johnson’s attorney.

The ambulance company, Americare Medservices of Garden Grove, refused Lazar’s request for an interview, but the owner said by phone that his company has had only three serious accidents in the company’s 18-year history. Owner Mike Summers said his drivers can work 24 hours without a sleep break but that if they don’t get at least five hours of uninterrupted rest in the last eight hours of their shift, they must have the following day off.

Johnson and the ambulance company just recently settled his lawsuit for an undisclosed amount of money exactly two weeks after Johnson’s attorneys got their hands on the video of the driver appearing to nod off. Kabatek calls the footage a smoking gun.

“This video is about as smoking gun as you can find,” Kabatek said.


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