Patterico's Pontifications


Left for Dead

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 8:18 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

There are not one but two stories today – one from Los Angeles and one from San Antonio – of people who were left for dead in car accidents. First, from Los Angeles:

“An autopsy is underway today to determine the cause of death of a woman who was found in a crumpled car in a San Fernando Valley tow yard a day after paramedics had removed her son from the vehicle after a crash, authorities said. Shirley Lee Williams, 72, of Paso Robles, had apparently been left in the car at the accident scene in Tarzana as her son was taken to a hospital, they said. Her name had been withheld until authorities could notify her son, who is still hospitalized.

At the Los Angeles Fire Department, officials were trying to figure out why the woman was left in the car. “We’re just trying to get information ourselves,” Battalion Chief Ronnie Villanueva said.

Investigators began looking for the woman Sunday after family members reported that two relatives, not one, were missing, said Officer Mike Lopez of the Los Angeles Police Department. “We conducted a follow-up to the tow yard, and we discovered the woman inside the vehicle,” Lopez said. “She was dead.”

On Sunday afternoon and evening, LAPD detectives and officials swarmed the vehicle lot at Howard Sommers Towing Inc., an official police impound and tow yard in Canoga Park, trying to determine how city paramedics and traffic officers had failed to spot the woman in the damaged vehicle.

Williams, described by police as slightly built, was concealed beneath an air bag that deployed during the accident. The vehicle was badly damaged.”

And here’s the San Antonio story:

“An investigator with the Bexar County medical examiner’s office made a surprising discovery early Sunday upon arriving at the scene of a traffic collision to examine a body. The person wasn’t dead.

On arrival, the medical examiner’s investigator noted the victim appeared to be breathing and was trapped in the vehicle,” a statement issued by the medical examiner’s office said. “EMS was called to the scene and took charge of the victim.”

Officials on Sunday guarded details of the incident. A video taken for KSAT-TV shows a victim at the scene draped in a yellow sheet — a typical procedure when someone is killed.
Sabrina Shaner, 22, the Accord’s driver, and back-seat passenger Amber Wilson, 22, suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries, Rios said. Front-seat passenger Erica Nicole Smith, 23, was in critical condition Sunday afternoon, according to Rios.

Bobby Smith, Erica’s Smith’s younger brother, said in a telephone interview Sunday night that Wilson and Shaner already had been released from the hospital, but his sister remained hospitalized with head trauma. Bobby Smith, 21, said he hadn’t heard about the incident involving the medical examiner’s office. He said his sister, a senior at Texas State University, had been trapped in the Accord and that emergency workers had to pry her out.

“It took her way too long to arrive at the hospital,” he said.”

I know this can’t be common but it’s still shocking.


11 Responses to “Left for Dead”

  1. Any idea on what the time lapse was between the on-scene personnel draping the body in a yellow sheet, and when the coroner showed up and found her still breathing?
    Or don’t they want to say until they get their stories straight?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  2. AD,

    Apparently Erica was in the car about an hour and fifteen minutes:

    “Rios said Ybarra’s gray Pontiac GS was on Loop 410 near Rigsby Road just before 4 a.m. when it veered into the oncoming lane, striking a Honda Accord.

    A medical examiner’s investigator was called to the scene at 4:29 a.m. and arrived at 5:14 a.m., the statement from the medical examiner’s office said.”

    DRJ (09f144)

  3. About 10-12 years ago, LA traffic cops keep ticketing an illegally parked car for about 3-4 days with the clearly visible, dead driver still behind the wheel.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  4. What’s the condition of Ms. Williams son? Most people transported to the hospital are constantly asking about the welfare of their passengers.

    tired (cd0e7b)

  5. I remember back in the late 80’s, when I was attending Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, that we had a situation just like the one Perfect Sense mentioned. A jeep was left at a meter on Lincoln Way (adjacent to the South end of campus, right along the “campustown” business district), and it accumulated a whole bunch of tickets on the windshield before someone noticed that it smelled funny. They found the owner of the jeep in the back seat with a blanket over the body. It was summer in Iowa, so I can’t believe that someone didn’t notice the smell earlier, but if I remember correctly, the tickets had been building up for almost a week before they found the body.

    Russ from Winterset (208079)

  6. Everybody, it seems, is susceptable to ignoring that which is in plain sight if it would mean extra paperwork, etc.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  7. Say, how many zero’s can these cities write at the end of the check?

    Azygos (5e0ac6)

  8. Erica was a friend of mine, and this whole situation has really stirred up many individuals worlds. She was a very lively, kind individual who deeply cared for all. This case has spiraled, now as all 4 are suspended, admitting her pulse was NEVER checked!!!! My poor Erica!! She DID NOT deserve that neglect!!! Love you Ms. Dancing Honeybee!

    Mindy (a018d7)

  9. As Mindy mentioned, the San Antonio Express News recently reported that the paramedic failed to check Erica’s pulse:

    “A San Antonio paramedic who responded to the scene of a head-on collision last month failed to check for the pulse of a victim trapped inside a car with a severe head injury, city officials revealed Tuesday.

    Instead, Mike Gardner, a paramedic with five years’ experience in the Fire Department, deemed merely by looking that Erica Nicole Smith, 23, was dead — a violation of the Fire Department’s standard operating procedures. Checking for vital signs “is part of the protocol, and it’s part of the protocol for a reason: To save lives,” City Attorney Michael Bernard said.”

    Mindy, I’m sorry for the loss of your friend Erica.

    DRJ (517d26)

  10. Erica and I went to high school together, she and I lived in the same town after school. She is the sweetest woman and most vibrant woman you could ever meet. I am very saddened by the way that this has been handled. The San Antonio Fire Cheif has been quoted as saying its not my fault I was not driving the other car. Then they take almost a month for them to come out with the truth that her pulse was never checked when they went before news cameras and said that everything was done to save her. The San Antonio Fire Cheif and Emergency Response Teams need to be reminded that yes we understand that they have a very hard job they choose this line of work and that they need to remember they are helping to save victims whether life threatning or not. San Antonio officials went into immediate cover up mode with this. Then as we are learning to cope that we have lost Erica they decide to come out with the truth and tell San Antonio. My question is why is there so much cover up going on? Erica and Sabrina were best friends and the saddest part of this is they arrested Sabrina on DUI charges more than a month after the fact. I am disgusted in how this has been handled. We were all on dance team together in high school. I am standing by Sabrina’s side and know that this is into another sort of cover up scandel. thats what san antonio is full of

    Kortni (1bdfb0)

  11. As I just have arrived home from a memorial service @ TX State for Erica, I still become sickened at the re-count of that horrible night. Erica was my daughter’s roommate, best friend, big sister and role model. She truly was an angel on earth. We have known her for over 10 years and we will never forget our beautiful angel. The city of SA should be ashamed of themselves. The cover up and the attack on this child’s life, family and friends is horrible. Erica’s best friend is a beautiful loving and caring young woman who I have known and have loved like my own. She has and will do anything to protect everyone she loves and everyone around her. Erica’s parents deserve honesty and this city should beg for forgiveness. Every time I see a news report on TV and I see my daughter & Sabrina @ Erica’s funeral trying to tell everyone what Erica stood for and that we needed to celebrate her life, it becomes so hard to believe that know one cares that grief & mourning should be allowed to all and respect for the dead should be given to all! We love you sweet angel. You keep dancing and showing all the angels just how to do those high kicks.

    Terry (182255)

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