Iowa fire chief fired after allegedly drunkenly driving patient to hospital while on job

The chief of an Iowa fire department was charged after investigators say he got behind the wheel of an ambulance – with a patient inside – and drove the emergency vehicle while drunk.

Thomas Launderville, 39, was dismissed from his position in Grand Junction after the alleged incident, which took place Friday. He was driving a patient to Greene County Medical Center in Jefferson when a Jefferson City police officer apparently heard the fire chief slurring his words on a radio call.

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Once Launderville arrived at the hospital, he allegedly admitted to having three or four beers and was arrested, WHO-TV reported. A breathalyzer test – which Launderville allegedly refused at first – found he had a blood alcohol content that was more than twice the legal limit, according to Green County court records.

Thomas Launderville, 39, was charged with operating while intoxicated for allegedly driving a patient to the hospital while he was drunk on Friday.

Thomas Launderville, 39, was charged with operating while intoxicated for allegedly driving a patient to the hospital while he was drunk on Friday. (Greene County Jail)

Greene County Sheriff Jack Williams said the allegations against Launderville "gives everyone a black eye that is in law enforcement, fire service, ambulance service, and with that black eye, it travels around and people look at us negatively from that."

"It's very concerning. Something you hope you don't run into or see," Williams said. "No one is above the law."

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Launderville was charged with operating while intoxicated. It was his second such offense, following an incident in Greene County in October 2014.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.