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February 26, 2019

58-Year-Old Driver Died of Injuries from Car Accident after Officer Signed Form Refusing Treatment

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A South Carolina man died four days after crashing his car while drunk driving. The man had internal injuries that were not treated immediately because a police officer signed a form on the man’s behalf stating that he refused medical treatment. Instead, he took the driver to the police station.

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Nathaniel Rhodes, 58, from South Carolina, died from injuries obtained during a car crash that took place last August. He had eight broken ribs and a ruptured liver at the time of his passing, according to medical records.

Rhodes ran over a red light and crashed his van into another car in Charleston on August 12. According to police records, Rhodes was already on an ambulance when police arrived at the place. The responding officer found a bottle of wine on Rhode’s front seat and asked him to step out of the stretcher to take a field sobriety test.

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After failing the test, Rhodes was taken to the police station to be booked for DUI instead of being taken to the hospital. A form refusing medical treatment, which should be signed by the victim or a guardian, was signed instead by the officer, who added a badge number and "CPD" beside the signature.

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Footage from the jailhouse show Rhodes slumped on a chair with difficulty to breathe or answer to the paramedic's questions. Despite the man’s poor state, the paramedics failed to realize he had severe injuries.

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The State Law Enforcement Division launched an investigation on the case after Rhodes’ family hired lawyers to demand answers from Charleston EMS and the City of Charleston Police Department. They believe that, if Nathaniel had been taken directly to the hospital, his chances of being alive were high.

Rhodes eventually collapsed in the station and was taken to the hospital, where he slipped into a coma and died four days after the accident. His widow and daughter are devastated.

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“We know there is nothing we can do to get our father back — nothing we can do to fill that void. But we just want there to be a change," his daughter Megan Johnson said.

Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds told NBC News that after receiving inquiries about the case, he asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to conduct an independent investigation.

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A statement provided to the news site read in part:

“While gathering information in response to a news request involving this case, the CPD was provided with a document that raised questions about whether CPD officers followed proper procedure when the driver was not transported to the hospital from the scene of the accident […] The loss of a life is always tragic and must be taken very seriously.”

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The officer, identified as Paul Kelly, has been placed on administrative leave.

"I don’t understand for the life of me why any officer would sign any EMS form relating to patient treatment. Even as a witness— I don’t understand why we would do that,” Reynolds told ABC News 4. 

The investigation is still ongoing. And although is clear the police officer made a huge mistake by denying medical attention to Rhodes, is also necessary to highlight that the man was driving while drunk, and most times, that doesn't end well.

An example of the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol is the tragic story of Jackie Brown and her family. 

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A mother of four from South Carolina, Brown loss her kids in a DUI incident caused by the father of her kids: Jamire Halley, 8, Robbiana Evans, 6, Arnez Yaron Jamison Jr., 4, and Ar'mani Jamison, 2. 

Brown was at home on Thursday, December 6 when Jamison Sr. took her kids with him on a visit to one of his other children in town. By Friday morning, she started to worry when the man didn't pick up her calls, and then she received a call from the hospital. Her two-year-old, Ar'mani, was there.

Brown said she thought it would just be bumps and bruises, but when she got to Greenville Memorial Hospital, she saw her toddler on life support and learned the rest of the terrible news: Jamison Sr. was driving the children back early Friday morning when his van veered off the highway and crashed into several trees. Her three older children died on the spot. By Sunday, Ar'mani was also taken off life support and pronounced dead.

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According to South Carolina Highway Patrol, Jamison Sr. has been charged with felony driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license and child endangerment.

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