Lawsuit filed against Orangeburg County in death of man with mental illness

Lawsuit filed against Orangeburg County in death of man with mental illness
Two EMTs were criticized for letting Tarashuk go free after he was caught walking naked. He was later hit by a car and died.

ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - A lawsuit has been filed against Orangeburg County and other entities on behalf of Paul Tarashuk, a man diagnosed with schizophrenia who died in March.

Tarashuk was hit by a car and killed on I-95 just four hours after Orangeburg County EMTs and police released him.

The lawsuit claims that entities within Orangeburg County, along with the Town of Santee and South Carolina Department of Public Safety, are liable for the unnecessary death of Tarashuk.

The lawsuit claims negligence on behalf of county law enforcement and emergency services, among other entities. It says they did not provide proper care for Tarashuk, 26, who was experiencing a schizophrenic event when they encountered him.

According to the lawsuit, Tarashuk was traveling southbound on I-95 on Sept. 9, 2018 when his pickup truck was run off of an on-ramp near Santee, South Carolina. That’s when his family says Tarashuk underwent a schizophrenic event.

Suffering from some delusion, he stripped off of all his clothes and hopped onto the catwalk of a tractor trailer that was parked on the on-ramp. The trucker took off, and Tarashuk traveled 11 miles down I-95 while on top of the semi.

Tarashuk then pulled off the brake lines of the truck, forcing the trucker to stop. After climbing all over the cab, he then jumped out into traffic on I-95 and was nearly killed.

When Santee police officers encountered Tarashuk, he was incoherent. The lawsuit said he was unaware that he was naked and spoke incoherently.

Highway Patrol and Orangeburg Sheriff deputies arrived on the scene and Tarashuk stopped talking. They told him that he would go to jail and be held until he could be identified.

The lawsuit goes on to explain that no one from law enforcement wanted to take responsibility on leading the investigation or addressing Tarashuk’s obvious medical needs. They thought he was intoxicated or on drugs, but a toxicology report showed no drugs in his system.

Orangeburg EMS was later called to the scene. Their medical assistance involved sticking an ammonia inhalant up Tarashuk’s nose.

Body camera footage showed the EMTs mocking Tarashuk for not responding to their questions and giving him the option of going to jail or the hospital. Tarashuk refused both options with a head shake and was released from the care of Orangeburg EMS.

The deputy on the scene gave Tarashuk a ride, dropping him off at a closed gas station at 2 a.m.

Tarashuk was still half naked and without his cell phone, wallet or any identification.

Four hours later, Tarashuk was running southbound on I-95 when he was hit and killed by a passing motorist.

The lawsuit claims that several parties involved failed to do their jobs in providing the care that Tarashuk needed, saying that lack of care, combined with their indifference to his mental condition, led to his subsequent and unnecessary death.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control found Jamie Givens and Alison Harmon, the two EMTs who cared for Tarashuk, violated the EMS Act of South Carolina. Harmon, a paramedic, had her certificate suspended for 18 months, but has an EMT certification which allows her to work during her suspension. Givens’ EMT certificate was suspended for six months.

Read the full lawsuit below:

Copyright 2019 WIS. All rights reserved.