I-TEAM UPDATE: An agency sworn to protect. An agency sworn to serve. How did two agencies fail a man who needed help on I-95?

By  | 

Thursday, March 21, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock

Paul Tarashuk, pictured here in custody before he was let go, later died on Interstate 95 (Source: WRDW)

ORANGEBURG, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- Two EMTs are still on the job despite South Carolina suspending their certifications.

Our I-Team now has video proof the crew knew something was wrong with Paul Tarashuk before they abandoned him on the highway where he later died.

In new video, you can see Tarashuk climbing off the cab of an 18-wheeler – naked. Later, you see him acting odd and non-responsive.

The body cam footage we have collected from that night is difficult to watch. It’s even more difficult to understand why no one is charged or why no one has been fired.

Tarashuk wasn’t in a position to tell is story. He couldn’t even tell his name.

The body cam footage tells the story of how those who are supposed to save lives ended up failing Tarashuk, a man suffering with schizoaffective disorder.

The footage shows Tarashuk trying to form coherent thoughts before shutting down entirely.

“You okay, man?” he is asked by one of the first responders.

But he’s not okay. Tarashuk’s family believes something triggered him that night. By the time the Orangeburg County EMS team sees him on the side of the road, he is unresponsive.

That unresponsiveness causes the EMT team to curse and berate him.

“What are you looking at me for?” one of them asked Tarashuk. “You full of [expletive], bro.”

It’s at that point that the EMTs pop an ammonia capsule and shove it up Tarashuk’s nostril in an effort to get a response from him. It doesn’t work.

“Talk to me,” the EMT said. “Talk to me. You don’t want it up your nose, then, talk to me. Stop acting stupid. You are a grown man.”

Smelling salts are placed under the nose to wake up an unconscious person. They use them here to force Tarashuk to respond to inquiries.

“So, check this out,” the EMT said. “Can you please tell us your name so you can take this out of your nose? I know it stinks. You know it stinks.”

Tarashuk breathes in the noxious smell. But he doesn’t react.

“If it’s an act,” one EMT said, “then it’s a pretty good act.”

The Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office deputy and the EMS worker both realize something is wrong with Tarashuk.

But instead of taking him to the hospital, the EMT crew leaves Tarashuk with the deputy. From there, the deputy takes Tarashuk to an empty, closed gas station 18 miles away in Santee. Surveillance footage at the station is the last video of Tarashuk alive.

Four hours later, Tarashuk was dead after he was hit by a car.

The same EMT crew that cursed, belittled, and abandoned Tarashuk was again called to the scene.

“Something was wrong with him,” one of the EMTs said to a South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper. “He would not talk to us.”

A Santee Police officer also responded to the second call.

“When we asked him a question – blank stare,” the EMT said. “I don’t know if he was having a mental issue, drug issues, or someone slipped him something. Don’t know which.”

“Did he get cleared by the hospital? Did he go to the hospital?” the officer asked.

“He never went to the hospital,” the EMT responded.

An agency sworn to protect and serve. Another agency sworn to serve unselfishly. On Sept. 10, 2018, both failed Paul Tarashuk.