Tuesday, July 29, 2014

SCOOP: Annabel Melongo found NOT GUILTY in Save-A-Life Foundation computer tampering case

From an e-mail I just received from Annabel Melongo's attorney, Jennifer Bonjean (slightly edited for clarity):
Today Cook County Judge Joseph Joyce entered a directed finding in favor of Annabel. After 8 years, the State's case came down to a single allegation that Annabel accessed Carol Spizzirri's email and forwarded an email to herself. And they couldn't even prove that. It Is a text book example of the State failing to exercise its discretion and adhere to its duty to seek truth. We are all indebted to Annabel Melongo for having the courage to hold the State to its burden. She took enormous risk and we are all better off for it. 
Click here for Ms. Bonjean's contact information.

Click here for a compilation of media reports about the Melongo case.

Click here for a compilation of media reports about Carol Spizzirri and the Save-A-Life Foundation scandal.

What's next? 

As I reported last year, Ms. Melongo filed an ongoing civil rights suit in federal court. She's now being represented in that case by Ms. Bonjean.

Liar's Dice, Part I: Boise mayor, fire chief try to pull a fast one re: recent drowning, so I've asked the city's ethics commission to investigate [UPDATE: ethics committee to discuss my concerns at August 14 meeting]

City of Boise 2014 Ethics Commission: Peter J. Mundt, Dee Oldham, David Proctor (Chairman), Jodi Nafzger, Tony Roark (source)

On July 16, I reported how my letter to the mayor of Boise, Idaho, triggered a city investigation of a firefighter who told a TV news reporter that he performed the Heimlich maneuver to revive a drowning man.

Click here to watch the video -- this part's at timestamp 2:45. The first paragraph is out of the fireman's mouth. The second paragraph is out of the reporter's mouth.

As Sidebar readers know, "the Heimlich" for drowning rescue is unapproved and warned against as useless and potentially harmful by leading medical and water safety organizations, and its use has reportedly been associated with dozens of poor outcome cases.

The victim, a 56-year-old homeless man named Felix E. Martinez, formerly of Idaho City, died five days later, with no known family or friends.

Last week Boise Mayor David Bieter, Ada County Coroner Erwin Sonnenber, and Boise Fire Chief David Doan sent me e-mails -- get this -- denying the firefighter "Heimlich-ed" Martinez. 

Did I mention that the TV reporter confirmed to me via e-mail that the firefighter told him he used "the Heimlich" to get “water and sand out of (Martinez's) lungs”?

So today I sent another letter, this time to the City of Boise Ethics Commission, requesting an investigation of the investigation.

I also located case records for Felix Martinez via Boise County Court that led to his ex-wife who divorced in five years ago.

Per the bottom of the first page of my letter -- see below -- maybe she can help identify and locate her ex-husband's next of kin.

Click here to download a copy of my letter.

[7/30/14 UPDATE] This morning I received an e-mail from Elizabeth Koeckeritz, Boise Assistant City Attorney that stated, "The Commission has received your request for review. The Commission next meets on August 14 and we will discuss it at that time."

Via the city's website:

The Ethics Commission meets every 2nd Thursday of the month at 3p.m. in the Bonneville Room, 3rd Floor, Boise City Hall.

9/8/14: Liar's Dice, Part II: Boise TV contradicts claims by mayor and fire chief re: "Heimlich drowning" -- plus investigations updates

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Boise Weekly: My inquiry triggers city investigation of drowning in which a fireman "Heimlich-ed" the victim


Clip from Police officer, firefighter team up to rescue man in canal by reporter Scott Evans, KTVB News, Boise, ID, June 25, 2014:

Via Question Triggers Probe into Drowning by reporter Harrison Berry in today's Boise Weekly:

In the late afternoon of June 23, Ada County Paramedics pulled Felix Martinez from the New York Canal.

He wasn't breathing. He had no pulse.

By the time Boise firefighter Brent Matthews dove into the canal, Martinez had been flowing with the current for an undetermined amount of time.

...Matthews said he used the Heimlich maneuver -- an emergency technique in which abdominal thrusts are repeated until a blockage is pushed out of a choking victim's airway -- until sand and other debris poured out of Martinez's mouth. Matthews then performed CPR for 25 minutes until he believed the victim had a pulse. Martinez was quickly loaded into an ambulance and taken to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.

Martinez's condition worsened; within five days, he was dead.

...Martinez, a homeless man, may not have attracted much attention prior to the incident, but because of the circumstances of his rescue, he has been the subject of a formal inquiry -- in large part because of Peter Heimlich, son of Dr. Henry Heimlich, for whom the maneuver is named.

...(Peter) Heimlich said when he first saw KTVB's report on the rescue, including the interview with Boise firefighter Matthews, he was incredulous.

"My first question was, 'What articles is [Matthews] talking about?"

Heimlich fired off a request for an inquest into the rescue and death of Martinez to the office of Mayor Dave Bieter...[Boise Weekly] confirmed that a copy of the request was received by Ada County Coroner Erwin Sonnenberg.

"A fireman is a city employee. He used an unapproved drowning-rescue treatment on a patient. At this point, there are no parties interested in finding out why Mr. Matthews performed this treatment on Mr. Martinez, and I think there needs to be some governmental oversight," Sonnenberg told Boise Weekly.

...Heimlich's attempts to spur an investigation by the Boise Fire Department have been successful, and an incident review is taking place so BFD can better discern the facts of the case.

Via reporter Tom Jackman's June 3, 2011 Washington Post article:

In Tampa, which has one of the highest drowning rates in the country, Dr. James Orlowski said he has documented nearly 40 cases where rescuers performing the Heimlich maneuver have caused complications for the victim. Orlowski is chief of pediatrics and pediatric intensive care at University Community Hospital in Tampa.

Click here for my compilation of reports and statements by medical and water safety organizations re: the use of the Heimlich maneuver to revive near-drowning victims. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

"You're dumber than dirt": President of controversial lifeguard training company hangs up on NJ public radio reporter, hurls insults at NBC Houston reporter

Via Lifeguards Trained In Controversial Procedure by Cindy Weightman, WBGO News (Newark, NJ Public Radio), June 30, 2014:
You’ve probably heard of the Heimlich Maneuver, a procedure commonly used when someone is choking on food. What may surprise you is that the procedure is also being taught by at least one lifeguard training agency to respond to drownings. The National Aquatic Safety Company, or NASCO, which trains lifeguards at four New Jersey waterparks, has been criticized for using a procedure that has been condemned almost universally in the medical community, including by the American Red Cross.

...Despite frequent opposition from the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association and other groups, NASCO continues to use the procedure. But what’s even stranger is that waterparks that have been criticized in the past for using the procedure, defend NASCO. Lou Cirigliano is the Director of Operations at Breakwater Beach, a waterpark in Seaside Heights.

“Just because the Red Cross has one opinion, that’s not the final answer. You’re gonna go to get open heart surgery, you’re probably going to go to two doctors who give you two different opinions. We use NASCO. Our park’s safety record speaks for itself. NASCO’s safety record speaks for itself.”

Asked whether it is worth the risk to continue using NASCO in spite of the controversy…

“If you want to talk to talk to NASCO, I’m going to direct you to them.

...I tried for several weeks to get in touch with NASCO before I finally got through to the company’s founder, John Hunsucker who told me they do not give interviews and I am wasting my time, right before he hung up on me.
Via Lifeguard training company won't abandon use of controversial technique by Joel Eisenbaum, KPRC News (Houston NBC affiliate), July 11, 2014:




There are two factual errors in Eisenbaum's otherwise solid report -- one's in the video version, one's in the text version. I've got a corrections request in to Rhonda LaVelle, Assistant News Director at KPRC and will report the results.

Click here for my compilation of media reports about NASCO's "Heimlich protocol."

Click here for my compilation of reports and statements by medical and water safety organizations re: the use of the Heimlich maneuver to revive near-drowning victims.

This item has been slightly updated.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Incendiary motion filed last week by Annabel Melongo's attorney requesting permission to extensively cross-examine Carol Spizzirri in high-profile criminal case

Even if you're new to the case, three words of advice: READ THIS MOTION.

In days to come, I plan to blog about specific sections of the motion, which was filed on June 25, 2014 by attorney Jennifer Bonjean re: the computer tampering charges filed against her client, Annabel Melongo, about eight years ago by Cook County, IL. To direct download a copy of the motion, click here.

Click here for a compilation of media reports about the Melongo case posted on my web site -- the first is a March 14, 2012 interview I did with a Rockford, IL, newspaper that includes the history of the computer tampering allegations which originated with Save-A- Life Foundation (SALF) founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri, a former politically-connected media darling in Chicago who now lives in a trailer park in San Marcos, CA. Click here for a compilation of media reports about SALF and Spizzirri.