Stroke patient nearly dragged by ambulance, impatient motorist to blame

Man tries to move ambulance blocking work van in Montgomery County (ABC7)

A stroke patient can thank the complexity of a vehicle air brake system for not being dragged through a parking lot whilst strapped to a stretcher.

Ambulance 701, of the Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service, was tending to a man exhibiting weakness and numbness at the Rock Creek Shopping Center along Grubb Road in Silver Spring. It was around 11:30 a.m. on a Wednesday in October.

Around the same time, Sheldon Gokool, 41, of Adelphi, was grabbing a cup of joe from the Parkway Deli with a co-worker. Upon leaving the establishment, Gokool observed Medic 701 was blocking his white Chevrolet work van.

According to charging documents, Gokool quickly grew impatient waiting for the marked ambulance to move. As three medics loaded the stroke patient into the back of the rig, they felt the vehicle jostle and heard the air brakes activate. Medics went to investigate, allegedly finding Gokool behind the wheel with the gear shifted from park to drive.

Police say Gokool became confrontational, telling rescue workers that they "should not have left [the ambulance] unlocked."

Paramedics hypothetically explained that if the front door of a home is unlocked, that does not permit a stranger to enter.

Gokool, however, suggested homeowners should always keep their property locked to prevent unwanted guests.

Court records further indicate Gokool inaccurately claimed to be a Montgomery County employee and stated his name was "Sadash."

Putting safety first, paramedics drove the stroke patient to Holy Cross Hospital – lights and siren activated. Upon transferring the individual to emergency room staff, medics contacted police about the bizarre situation at the strip mall.

One paramedic shared a photo taken of the front license plate on Gokool’s work van, which police later determined was registered to Rockville-based Netcom Technologies, Inc.

Montgomery County Police contacted Netcom Technologies and obtained Gokool's personal information. During a telephone interview, Gokool reportedly admitted to climbing into the medic unit, but claimed to have only gazed at the buttons, listened to the dispatch radio and take notice of how "roomie" and "comfy" the cab was. Gokool added that he was apologetic and answered all of the paramedics' questions honestly.

Investigators point out that had Gokool been more familiar with the equipment on-board the ambulance, he would have dragged the stroke patient for an unknown distance, likely causing physical harm.

When reached by telephone this week, Gokool referred all questions to his attorney. The Law Offices of Maria Mena later told ABC7 they disagree with the criminal allegations filed against their client and plan to fight them in court.

Phone calls to Netcom Technologies, Inc. seeking comment went unreturned.

Gokool faces up to seven years and prison and more than $1,000 in fines on charges of obstructing firefighters, attempted unauthorized removal of property and disorderly conduct. He is scheduled to appear in Montgomery County District Court in Silver Spring on February 2 at 8 a.m. for a preliminary hearing.

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