Ambulance crew carrying dying Chicago Marathon competitor lost direction, precious time en route to nearby medical center

By The Associated Press

CHICAGO – The ambulance crew who picked up a dying runner during the Chicago Marathon apparently got lost on the way to a hospital, authorities said.

Chad Schieber collapsed while running the Oct. 7 race, and was about six blocks away from the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center. An autopsy blamed his death on a heart condition called mitral valve prolapse, though heart experts say the condition is rarely dangerous.

Schieber, 35, was picked up from the marathon route by an ambulance from Niles, one of 30 suburban crews called to help when hundreds of runners were stricken by that day’s hot weather.

The crew radioed Chicago dispatchers Schieber was in full cardiac arrest and said they planned to take him to the UIC Medical Center, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said this week.

The ambulance crew drove a couple blocks in the wrong direction, then flagged down a city ambulance and got instructions, said Niles Fire Chief Barry Mueller. But then they drove past the UIC Medical Center because they couldn’t find the emergency room entrance.

    Sign up for our newsletter!

    They ended up delivering Schieber to the West Side Veterans Administration Hospital a few blocks away. The hospital is not part of Chicago’s emergency response network but has a fully working emergency room, officials said.

    Langford and Mueller could not say how long it took to take Schieber, a police officer from Midland, Mich., to the hospital or whether it would have helped Schieber if he had arrived sooner.

    Krystn Madrine, Schieber’s sister-in-law, said the family is waiting for more information.

    “We want to see what happens,” Madrine told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “We hope that something good will come of Chicago’s discovering that they did not do a very good job.”

    Marathon officials declined to comment Wednesday.

    The lost ambulance was first reported Monday by WBBM-TV, which also said emergency dispatchers didn’t have maps of marathon road closures. Dispatchers could be heard shouting over radios “We need maps! We have no maps down here,” WBBM reported.

    Mueller said the crew had asked dispatchers for directions but got no response.

    “That’s not unusual; the airwaves could be jammed,” Mueller said.