I-TEAM UPDATE: Paramedic in I-95 case fired as SLED investigates how EMS workers let a man walk away from care

Published: Jun. 10, 2019 at 5:17 PM EDT
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Monday, June 10, 2019

News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

ORANGEBURG COUNTY, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- A paramedic is now without a job eight months after Paul Tarashuk died. SLED is now also investigating what happened.

A deputy dropped him off at a closed gas station miles away without a wallet, shoes, or cell phone.

But Alison Harmon, the paramedic in this incident, was not fired because of failing to care for Tarashuk. She was fired for back talking her boss. A week later, SLED opened an investigation into Tarashuk's death.

It took 7 months for Orangeburg County to fire the paramedic in charge the night Paul Tarashuk died, and 8 months for SLED to open an investigation into his death.

Tarashuk was unable to tell them his name when he was picked up on the side of Interstate 95 last year. He suffered from schizophrenia.

Hours later after he was dropped off by the deputy, he was dead – struck by a car while he walked down the interstate.

Harmon was fired in late April. She only got a week suspension for the Tarashuk incident. She was fired for back talking her boss. At first, the county gave her a week suspension for that, too, but later terminated her after further reviewing her prior violations.

The state found Harmon in violation for abandoning Tarashuk. She was supposed to be demoted, but that didn't happen for months. Somehow there was an "error" and the demotion paperwork wasn't mailed out until 4 months after the order to immediately demote her.

SLED told us they had been following Tarashuk's story for some time, but the agency didn't officially open an investigation until May.

Jennifer Bretz, an attorney living in Tarashuk's home state of New Jersey, is one of the more than 1,200 members of the Facebook group "Justice for Paul Tarashuk."

In scathing two page letter to SLED, she writes:

"The failure to protect this man is horrifying,” the letter said. “No help was administered. Instead he was mocked and abandoned. Each person who was involved in that night, and who failed to perform their respective job, should be subject to the intense scrutiny of your division."

The Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office would not comment on any possible disciplinary actions against the deputy who left Tarashuk at a gas station, but the deputy's personnel file doesn't show any action taken.

Bretz’s letter to SLED says, “a man is dead clearly from someone's incompetence, negligence, recklessness and or criminal behavior. Something must be done. It is up to your agency to make sure justice is done."

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