Fact Check

The Runaway Gurney

Did an elderly patient meet his demise when the stretcher he was on took off down a hill with him?

Published Dec 31, 1998


Claim:   An elderly patient met his demise when the gurney he was strapped to rolled away with him.

Status:   True.

Origins:   The following 1991 news story appeared long after the legend was in circulation. It's a case of ostension, or an urban legend's coming true:

A 76-year-old man died after the ambulance stretcher he was strapped to rolled down a grade and overturned, the Allegheny County coroner's office said. Edward Juchniewicz of Canonsburg was being transported from a nursing home to a doctor's office for an appointment. The ambulance attendants left the stretcher in the parking lot at the doctor's office and went to talk with the doctor's staff, authorities said. The cot rolled away and turned over, injuring the man in the head, the coroner's office said.

Barbara "rolling stock" Mikkelson

Last updated:   1 August 2007

  Sources Sources:

    The New York Times.   "Stretcher Accident Kills Man."

    4 May 1991   (p. 8).

    Orlando Sentinel Tribune.   "76-Year-Old Patient Dies After Stretcher Overturns."

    3 May 1991   (p. A12).