After EMS delay, officials meet with family of dead son, calls cops
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
NAPLES, Fla. - After two months of being ignored, Collier County EMS officials finally agreed to meet with a Naples family still mourning the loss of their son - then called the cops and kicked them out.
"He's blowing smoke up our --," said Carol Minard-Booher, who walked out of a closed door meeting. "We've asked a lot of questions. They have no answers for us."
Still no answers for the Minard family after their son, Chaz Minard, 25, died a week after his family called 911 as he was going into cardiac arrest back in December.
A Fox 4 investigation discovered the ambulance crew wasted six critical minutes before ever leaving the station because they were vacuuming and their radios weren't working.
Your tax dollars paid Collier County EMS to investigate the delay. But they won't share the results of that investigation with you or the family.
Collier County EMS Chief Walter Kopka, who has been stonewalling us and ignoring our phone calls for nearly three weeks, invited the Minard family to a private meeting at the Medical Examiner's office Monday.
But instead of answering their questions he called police.
"You're not going to let the media in with me?," said Charles Minard, who wanted us to attend the meeting.
"I'm sorry, no," a secretary said.
"When will Walter Kopka talk with us?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.
"I'm sorry," the secretary said, "there's no news" allowed inside.
After being ignored, the family felt this closed door meeting was their chance to finally get the answers they were promised last month.
"When we know all the details" of what happened, Kopka told us on Jan. 23, the first and only time he spoke with us, "we can certainly talk about that with the family."
Despite the fact EMS finished its investigation into why six critical minutes passed before an ambulance ever left, EMS won't release its findings.
Public records obtained by Fox 4 show the county didn't follow proper procedures and Medic Station 42's radios weren't working properly on the day Chaz was taken to the hospital and two days before.
According to documents, the crew was "in separate areas of the station cleaning and running the vacuum" at the time they were supposed to be dispatched.
"I came here today for answers and accountability," said Minard. "It's time people stand up for what they did."
Since we weren't allowed in, we waited outside. Within minutes, Chaz's aunt Minard-Booher, walked out of the private meeting frustrated with the chief.
"I'm angry," she said. "I'm about to lose my temper. Like I said, we're getting no answers."
A few minutes later, a sheriff's deputy arrived telling us he was called in for "crowd control." Charles Minard, who is still grieving the loss of his son, said Kopka called the cops on him because he was asking too many questions.
"[The secretary] said we were being disruptive and we had to leave," said Minard.
He says "there was no yelling, no loud voices, just discussion."
Fox 4 wanted to talk with Kopka, but a deputy summoned us over. That's when the chief slipped out.
"He jumped in his truck," said Minard, "and ran like a coward."
The Minard's came brimming with concerns they say weren't addressed. Chaz's mom brought photos of their son - she said Kopka wouldn't even look at them.
More than anything, the family just wants assurance what happened to them what happen to anyone else.
"I just asked for accountability," said Minard. "What we're going to do and how we're going to make changes."
Not getting any response from the EMS chief, the family has tried reaching out to his boss, County Manger Leo Ochs.
But he's not talking either. Fox 4 was told he was investigating the situation but he has yet to return our phone calls, say what's being done to fix broken equipment or explain why the people who could have saved Chaz's life were cleaning at a time when they were needed most.
"Leo Ochs you're a coward," said Minard. "I think people need to be held accountable. From Leo Ochs all the way down to the vacuum cleaner."
Fox 4 called Ochs' office Monday - after waiting in his office for an hour last Wednesday, and leaving messages on Thursday and Friday of last week with his assistant.
We want to know if it's acceptable the way the Minard's are being treated. We have not heard back.