NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Just weeks away from beginning the next stage in reaching her dream of becoming a doctor, Rutgers graduate Hinal Patel died doing what she loved.
Patel, 22, an emergency medical technician with Spotswood Emergency Medical Services, was killed July 25 when her ambulance – en route to an emergency– collided with a car in East Brunswick.
Her shift that day was intended to be her last before resuming her studies.
The Piscataway resident aspired to become a doctor and had plans to attend the master’s program at the Rutgers Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences this fall.
“She was, first and foremost, a true professional. She was bright, funny, well loved and well respected. There are a lot of words I could use,” Miriam Barbarise, Director of Spotswood EMS told New Brunswick Today.
“Hinal meant a lot to us," added Barbarise, who worked with Patel for the last two years. "She was going to school in the fall and her dream was to become a doctor."
Patel, a graduate from both Piscataway High School and Rutgers University, completed her EMT training in 2012. In addition to working with Spotswood EMS, she provided her services to the North Stelton Volunteer Fire Company.
The volunteer company released a statement days following Patel’s death stating that she served as a volunteer at Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick for five years before becoming an EMT at North Stelton.
“Hinal was a very smart, dedicated member of our family and she will be greatly missed,” reads an excerpt from the statement. “The members of the North Stelton Volunteer Fire Company are devastated by her loss and extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends and coworkers.”
A funeral and procession, with as many as 500 people, was held on Monday, July 27 at Franklin Memorial Park in North Brunswick township to allow mourners to pay their respects.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced that – in recognition of the life and in mourning of Hinal Patel – all state buildings are directed to fly their flags at half-staff on July 31.
“EMT Hinal Patel’s compassion for others and commitment to her community through providing care to those in need makes her a hero and a true role model for all New Jerseyans,” said Christie.
"It is with deep sadness that we mourn the loss of Hinal Patel, and extend our sincere sympathy to her family, friends, and fellow first responders."
The East Brunswick Police Department said the incident took place a few minutes before 8 a.m. Saturday morning at the intersection of Cranbury Rd. and Ryders Lane, according to a news release.
Patel was a passenger in the 2008 Ford ambulance as it headed west on Ryders Lane with emergency lights and sirens activated, when it was struck by a Toyota Prius and overturned before sliding into a 2011 Subaru Legacy.
In the release, Police Lt. Kevin Zebro said the driver of the ambulance Mark Suebe, 22, and the driver of the car Kathleen Meade, 58, were taken to RWJ University Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
The crash is currently under investigation by the East Brunswick Police Department Special Operations Section.
Anyone with information regarding the investigation can contact Patrol Officer John Bird or Patrol Officer Glenn Tabasko of the East Brunswick Police Department Special Operations Section at 732-390-6969.