NEW YORK • In an ambulance speeding through New York City's Staten Island, a patient unbuckled the straps of the gurney on which he lay, and opened the doors of the moving vehicle.
The patient, Mr Yaugeni Kralkin, then jumped out, tumbling onto the asphalt and falling unconscious.
Mr Kralkin, 56, has now filed a suit against the city, the fire department and the four emergency medical workers who were ministering to him that night last June. He accuses the medical workers of failing in their duties, saying they did not stop him from exiting the ambulance and are thus responsible for his injuries.
The seemingly strange assigning of blame hinges on one point: Mr Kralkin was drunk, with a blood alcohol level of at least 0.34 - so high he was unaware of his actions, according to his lawyer. The emergency workers failed in their duty to protect him, his lawsuit contends, even from himself.
Mr Kralkin was knocked unconscious, had a seizure as well as cuts and bruises from the fall on June 11, last year, according to the suit, which seeks compensation for his medical bills as well as damages.
Mr Kralkin, a truck driver, had an argument with his son that night. Upset, he downed a bottle of cognac and went for a walk. He said he ended up slumped in front of a neighbour's house, and could not recall anything after emergency workers showed up, except an overpowering impulse to get home.
New York City and the fire department have declined to comment, while the union representing the medical workers said they had no legal responsibility for Mr Kralkin's actions. Unlike the police, the union said, emergency medical workers are unarmed and do not have the authority to restrain people against their will.