Wrongful Death Suit Blames Delayed Response of St. Louis Medic Unit

The City of St. Louis and two fire department EMTs are facing a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the sister of a man who died in 2021. Sharon LaRue claims that St. Louis Fire Department Medic 32 was dispatched for her brother, who has been struck by a vehicle. She further claims that Medic 32 stopped after being struck by a rock, resulting in a delay in their arrival that cost Rodney LaRue his life.

The suit was filed in St. Louis Circuit Court naming the City and the two EMTs, Michael Wojick and LaTaira Frazier. The suit alleges two counts of wrongful death. The crux of LeRue’s suit is that the EMTs were negligent in allowing the thrown rock incident to delay their response. The facts as explained in the complaint:

  • That on or about the 27th day of September, 2021, the motorized scooter operated by Decedent was struck by a motor vehicle operated by Ashley Colville; that the collision occurred at the intersection of Arsenal Street and Ivanhoe Avenue in the City of St. Louis; that Decedent suffered injury to multiple organs, including his left kidney, and his right flank and that those injuries required medical aid, including prompt ambulance transport to a trauma center.
  • That the aforesaid collision was witnessed by a police officer employed by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department; upon witnessing the collision, the police officer immediately reported the collision to the appropriate dispatch agency and requested the provision of ambulance services.
  • That after taking the aforesaid report, the dispatcher promptly dispatched various first responders to the scene, including Medic Unit 32; … that the dispatcher notified Medic 32 that medical aid and ambulance transportation services were needed due to the report of an “Accident with Injuries” and directed Medic 32 to promptly report to the aforesaid intersection.
  • Defendants Wojick and Frazier were assigned to Medic 32; that at the time of said assignment, Defendants Wojick and Frazier knew that the call involved a “MVA-high mechanism, car vs. motorcycle”; that Defendant Wojick drove and otherwise operated Medic 32 at such time.
  • That while in route, Medic 32 was struck by a rock thrown by a pedestrian; that in response, Defendant Wojick stopped Medic 32 and ceased Medic 32’s response to the aforesaid intersection; eventually, a supervisor directed Medic 32 to continue to the scene; that Defendant Wojick or Defendant Frazier or both of them took Medic 32 out of service for at least 29 minutes before reinitiating their route.
  • Medical services were provided by other members of Defendant City’s fire department before Medic 32 arrived; unfortunately, Decedent required ambulance transport to a trauma center and, before Medic 32’s arrival, no vehicle or other apparatus then present was equipped for such transfer; after arriving, Medic 32 transmitted Decedent to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in the City of St. Louis; that trauma surgeons provided surgical treatment to Decedent which ultimately proved unsuccessful.
  • That Decedent would have survived those injuries he suffered in the collision but for the 29-minute delay in transporting him from the collision scene to Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Here is a copy of the complaint:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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