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99 Windstar AC making noise & van hard to drive/stiff steering while running AC

(1999 Ford Windstar)
in Kansas City, MO on August 30, 2014
1999 Ford Windstar...When the AC is running, the car labors on a grade sometimes. Last night, while the AC was running it started to make a intermittent noise and the whole vehicle locked up. I was in an intersection trying to turn and could not. Steering became stiff as did braking. It felt like the car had stalled while in gear but it was still running. When I turned the AC off, the car seemed to go back to normal and I was able to make it home. Can you give me an idea of what may cause that?
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on August 30, 2014
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