EMT in deadly Bellwood ambulance crash had long legal history

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The EMT who crashed an ambulance into a suburban building last weekend killing himself and two others had broadsided a car in 2010, the ABC7 I-Team has learned, resulting in injuries and damages that are still unpaid.

The ambulance tech was also an ex-con and had several felony convictions on his rap sheet-a history being checked Wednesday evening by state licensing officials.

The police chief of west suburban Bellwood, where the triple fatal crash occurred, told the I-Team on Wednesday that they have "an open criminal investigation" of the incident underway with assistance from the Illinois State Police.

Emergency medical technician James D. Wesley, 51, was driving for Excel Ambulance Co. on Saturday afternoon when he lost control and crashed into a building at 28th Avenue and Washington Boulevard in west suburban Bellwood. Wesley died instantly according to authorities, and his co-worker EMT Prentis Williams, 50 of Chicago and 48 year old dialysis patient Larry Marshall Jr. were also killed. Investigators said there were no skid marks prior to the ambulance colliding with the building and no skid marks.

In March, 2010, police records show Wesley was driving a friend's car when he collided with another motorist's vehicle at the intersection of 76th and Cornell on Chicago's South Side. Wesley caused the accident according to a police report by pulling into an intersection as traffic moved through.

A civil suit filed by the victim's insurance company states that Wesley was careless and negligent and may have been speeding. The suit asks for $25,129 to cover medical and other costs for the victim.

That eight year old accident case was still in dispute at the time of Saturday's ambulance crash-and there had been a court filing just the previous week.

An attorney for the insurance company declined to discuss the case when contact by the I-Team.

Following the 2010 accident, Illinois Secretary of State records show that Wesley lost his license. After regaining his license in 2013, Wesley was required to obtain specialized "high risk" insurance-which he was still required to have at the time of last weekend's ambulance crash.

An attorney representing Excel Ambulance Co. declined to comment on the commission. "Since my client may be at risk of litigation arising out of the incident we are not able to comment at this time" said attorney Frank W. Nagorka.

There are also numerous felonies listed in Wesley's personal history between 1992 and 2007 including drug possession, theft and criminal damage to property. Records show he served time in both Illinois state prison and the Cook County jail.

Illinois Department of Public Health officials, the agency which licenses emergency medical technicians in the state, say they are checking Wesley's records to see if his felony convictions should have precluded him from having an EMT license.

Phone numbers for Wesley are disconnected and family members could not be reached for comment.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office conducted an autopsy on Wesley but authorities say the results of toxicology tests will not be available for several weeks.
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