9 Wrong Wrong

Writing for Change: Elko mother, author fights for reform

2013-03-15T02:00:00Z Writing for Change: Elko mother, author fights for reformBy DYLAN WOOLF HARRIS — dharris@elkodaily.com Elko Daily Free Press

ELKO — After a 2008 fatal car crash, a grieving Elko mother channeled her heartache and is now pushing for reform to EMT laws.

Candace James recently completed a book — co-written by former Free Press staff writer Danielle Switalski — recounting her own investigation into the accident, which left her unsettled and calling for change.

On Oct. 10, 2008, Laura Thompson, then 24, sat in the back seat of a car traveling from Elko to Round Mountain when the driver overcorrected, James said, and the car flipped. Two passengers in the front seats survived with minor injuries — including the driver who was charged with a misdemeanor DUI, she said.

EMT’s were quick to respond to the scene, but Thompson, James’ daughter, was already pronounced dead. James was notified the following afternoon in her home. She describes herself being in a stage of “rage grief.”

“I was talking about it and asking questions, and I said this whole 9-1-1 has turned into a 9-wrong-wrong,” James said. “Right from the get go it wasn’t right, something wasn’t jiving.”

James began doing her own investigation of the accident, which, she said, indicated at least some degree of negligence.

Thompson was in the back seat where she stayed for five hours after the accident. According to 9-1-1 tapes, James surmised her daughter was alive immediately after the crash and could have been pulled from the wreckage, resuscitated and possibly saved.

“(The EMT) was saying that she was dead. He can’t declare somebody dead,” she said. “... She was laying there making noises. He said he checked her repeatedly.”

Based on signs that the victim’s matted hair was never moved off her neck and a lack of marks on her body, James believes the EMT on the scene never checked for signs of life.

“When you check somebody’s pressure and they’re already dead, it’s going to leave a mark because your blood automatically starts pooling. ... Well there were no compression marks there. They checked nothing on her,” James said.

James sued Nye County for gross negligence but ultimately ran low on finances and the charges were dismissed. The judge said not enough evidence existed to support James’ claims.

But that judgment didn’t halt James’ purpose, which is now to raise awareness. She started a support group for parents who have lost children called Healing Hearts, and she is writing a second book exploring that sentiment tentatively titled, “Like No Other: A Mother’s Love.”

The next chapter for James is reform. She’s aiming to change state law. The determined mother contacted Assemblyman John Ellison recently and asked the lawmaker to help change a statute related to EMT guidelines. Referred to by supporters as “Laura’s Law” after James’ late daughter, the modification would allow for civil retribution under certain circumstances of gross negligence that resulted in death.

The revision of statute isn’t intended to allow frivolity, she explained. “I understand why they are protected because if not they would be sued every day. But when there’s gross, reckless negligence resulting in death, they need to be accountable. That’s what the law’s about,” she said.

A person’s background should be factored into negligence charges, she said. In her daughter’s case, the EMT had prior felony convictions related to burglary and drug possession.

“People like this person ... should never have had that position. The state of Nevada signed off on him, knowing he just got out of prison,” she said.

Ellison said the change isn’t going to be introduced as a bill but instead as a regulation to be discussed this coming summer.

“It’s asking that anyone who has been convicted of a felony for drugs can’t drive an ambulance,” Ellison said.

James is continuing to document the process of reform in a sequel book, titled “9 Wrong Wrong Made Right.”

“It’s been a whirlwind. It’s been a whirlwind,” she said.

In James’ effort to raise awareness, she’s scheduled local book signing opportunities. Current dates are the following: 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. April 6 at Haley’s Fine Gifts, 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. April 20 at The Flying Fish, and 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. April 26 at Black Dog Coffee and Gifts.

The book will be available in June on Amazon or available now for preorder at Tate Publishing’s website.

Call 934-3570 for information on Healing Hearts.

Copyright 2015 Elko Daily Free Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. SRRM
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    SRRM - March 28, 2013 4:21 pm
    Should never ever have to hear. It takes spunk to be an EMT, but you have to have some discretion and you should NEVER assume (think of the old addage). @Yahooligan, if it were YOUR child and the circumstances were the same, you would be a crusader just like her. To say that you wouldn't means you are either young OR not a parent and haven't had the worry of ever having to bury your own child.
  2. SRRM
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    SRRM - March 28, 2013 4:19 pm
    My heart goes out to the author! My husband had a son die at 18 from a contagious disease, and as he stood in line at the pharmacy to get the antibiotics to make sure he didn't contract it, he got the pleasure of the EMT who responded to his lifeless body describe in full detail what it was like. To quote the jerk (who should have to adhere to the same laws as Dr.'s) "I don't know why we even bothered trying, the kid was blue and lifeless- and foaming at the mouth". Things a grieving father..
  3. tred
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    tred - March 18, 2013 2:24 pm
    My heart goes out to the family as having to plan your child's funeral is nothing any parent should ever have to do. I too also believe that going after the EMT who has obviously served his time for what ever crime he committed is just that, he took his punishment, chose to turn his life into helping others and yet society wants to continue the punishment. The passenger's should have not been in the car, not with a drunk driver, so where is the real liability?
  4. DEBoyd
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    DEBoyd - March 17, 2013 5:55 am
    Agreed. One needs to be suspicious of anyone pushing the "(fill in the) Blank's Law. These are invariably emotion based panaceas that while they fulfill the desire we all have to do *something* accomplish little other than trample on the rights of others and undermine the rule of law. The law does not and must not recognize moral standing for the same reason we don't allow relatives of a victim on the jury of the accused. It needs to be and stay that way if we want justice.
  5. Yahooligan
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    Yahooligan - March 15, 2013 4:17 pm
    The driver was drunk & only received a misdemeanor DUI when the accident resulted in a death? That is the true tragedy in this story. My heart goes out to the victim's family, but I think targeting the EMT in her death is way off base. The EMT didn't drink & drive. The author has a bunch of suspicions that don't sound provable. Suggesting that a felon cannot be a good EMT is a little ridiculous. If the EMT in question truly let her die, that speaks to his character. Some felons really do change
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