Paramedic under investigation for death of schizophrenic patient
Paul Tarashuk was having schizophrenic episode when he was picked up by police on Interstate 95 and dropped off at the nearest gas station
Update: The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has concluded its investigation into the actions of first responders after Paul Tarashuk was struck and killed by a vehicle after being released by EMS. Read the updates here.
Four hours after an EMS crew released Paul Tarashuk, he was struck and killed by a vehicle; are they liable?EMS attorney David Givot, The Legal Guardian, breaks down issues of patient abandonment, negligence and responsibility.
By EMS1 Staff
ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. — A South Carolina paramedic's actions are under investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for the death of Paul Tarashuk, a diagnosed schizophrenic who was struck by a car while walking on the interstate after being released from care.
Tarashuk was picked up by police after a truck driver called for help, telling the responding deputy that Tarashuk climbed on top of his truck naked. The deputy called for an ambulance to respond, telling the truck driver, “I’m getting this thing passed down, he ain’t going to jail, I promise you that. This ain’t my fish. I’ll get him some medical help.”
When medical personnel arrived, Tarashuk refused to answer any questions and did not have any shoes, cell phone, or money on him, 12 WRDW reports. EMTs and police officers were not able to understand him as he was having a schizophrenic episode.
Tarashuk was released by ambulance personnel, despite not being able to communicate his needs.
“Even though he wasn’t capable of signing himself out that he doesn’t want help, they just let him walk out of the ambulance,” Cindy Tarashuk, his mother, told WCSC 5 in the week after the incident.
The police deputy that initially picked up Tarashuk then drove him to a different town, 18 miles away, and dropped him off at a closed gas station. Four hours later, the same EMS crew responded after Tarashuk was hit by a car while walking down the highway.
Alison Harmon, the paramedic that responded to the call, was found in violation for abandoning Tarashuk, but was not demoted at the time; instead, she received one week’s suspension for her lack of actions during the incident.
SLED didn’t open an investigation until May – seven months after the incident – and Harmon was fired eight months after the incident. She was allegedly fired for backtalking her boss and not for her actions with Tarashuk.
The Facebook group “Justice for Paul Tarashuk” was created to advocate for an investigation, and has grown to more than 1,200 members.
Group member Jennifer Bretz, a New Jersey attorney, wrote a letter to SLED detailing what she considered to be abject failure of duty by those involved.
"The failure to protect this man is horrifying. No help was administered. Instead he was mocked and abandoned. Each person who was involved in that night, and who failed to perform their respective job, should be subject to the intense scrutiny of your division."
Four hours after an EMS crew released Paul Tarashuk, he was struck and killed by a vehicle; are they liable? David Givot, The Legal Guardian, breaks down issues of patient abandonment, negligence and responsibility.