'They disregarded him,' mother of mentally ill man killed on I-95 says of EMS

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Wednesday, August 07, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

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

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – The parents of a mentally ill man returned to the county where he died nearly a year later.

Paul Tarashuk was hit and killed while walking naked along the interstate in Orangeburg County.

Body cam footage shows EMS cursing at Paul before leaving him in the care of a deputy. Other video shows the deputy dropping Paul off at a closed gas station a few hours before he was hit and killed.

Six months after we originally spoke with her, Cindy Tarashuk is still looking for answers and for accountability, but most of all she is looking to make a change through telling her son's story.

In one of her trips around the county, Cindy stood in front of the Orangeburg County EMS Office.

“It’s hard,” Cindy said. “I never imagined myself standing here before. It’s hard.”

“I want to march through one of those buildings to confront someone to say, ‘Why?’”

Paul was schizoaffective. His parents believe a car crash caused him enter into a psychotic state. Body cam footage showed him naked on top of a tractor trailer.

Paul didn’t even seem to know his name when he was being treated by the EMS workers. He doesn’t even respond to an EMT shoving an ammonium capsule shoved up his nose.

"They disregarded him,” Cindy said. “It didn't matter what he was suffering from. It didn't matter. He needed help. They didn't want to help him. They recognize he needed help."

Orangeburg EMS did not take him to the hospital. Instead, a deputy dropped him off at a closed gas station-without shoes, phone or an ID.
Paul was hit and killed a few hours later.

"Honestly, I had to push myself to agree to come here,” Cindy said. “I keep pushing myself thinking it’s bigger than Paul. It is for Paul to help everybody else."

It's hard for her to stand in front of one of the agencies that failed her son. It's hard for her to talk about how her son died.

“We have to expose it,” Cindy said.

Cindy believes in the cause that telling his story could save others and maybe bring them some peace.

"That’s going to help the future Pauls down the road,” Cindy said.

The Tarashuks want stiffer penalties for first responders who fail to do their jobs. They also want more mental health training for first responders. One way they're helping to do that is by allowing EMTs to use the body cam footage of their son in training videos.

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