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In Wake of Girl's Death, Patrie Family Files Notice of Intent to Sue South Windsor, Manchester

Family alleges negligence in how the towns' responded to 15-year-old girl's collapse in June.

The family of a 15-year-old girl who died suddenly at South Windsor High School over the summer during a conditioning exercise at a dance camp has filed a notice of intent to sue the towns of South Windsor and Manchester, according to published reports.

According to a three-page later filed with the South Windsor Town Clerk's office, the family of Hannah Patrie, through its attorneys at Santos & Seeley of Hartford, is claiming in the notice that the towns’ first responders, in addition to the camp director and others, were negligent in their alleged lack of preparedness and slow response time.

The notice was filed on Dec. 21. A notice of intent is not a lawsuit, but is a method to toll the statute of limitations and also notify all parties that a lawsuit could be filed in the future. Attorney Jessica Santos told the Hartford Courant that the family had not decided whether to file a lawsuit.

Hannah Patrie was in the high school auditorium around 2:30 p.m. on June 29 when she reported having difficulty breathing while taking part in an exercise with the Footloose Show Choir Camp. 

She subsequently suffered an apparent seizure and collapsed, according to police at the time. According to the notice, Patrie had been running around the auditorium with others when she slowed to a walk and then sat down, "very pale and became verbally unresponsive."

Another child participating in the camp called 911 around 2:54 p.m., and Patrie’s mother Karen, a registered nurse, arrived at the scene and attempted to provide CPR to Hannah.

Karen Patrie reportedly pleaded with South Windsor Officer Christina Mazzoccoli to call for an emergency helicopter, but was told that there was nowhere to land.

“Minutes later, another police officer appeared with an automated external defibrillator, but apparently did not administer a shock because the device advised against it," according to the notice.

“Police officers didn't begin CPR until 3:08 p.m.," the notice states.

Patrie was transported via Aetna ambulance, which is part of Ambulance Service of Manchester, to Manchester Memorial Hospital at 3:54 p.m., where she was later pronounced dead, according to police ad the notice.

A representative at the state’s medical examiner in a telephone conversation said that Patrie’s cause of death was “undetermined, pending further investigation.”

How the ambulances responded is the subject of some controversy.

The South Windsor Ambulance Corps. has two ambulances, but just one was in service on June 29, according to SWAC owner Larry Gorman.

June 29 was an unusually hot day, and the lone South Windsor Ambulance Corps. ambulance was out on another call, according to records. 

Regardless, SWAC does not provide advance life support. The Ambulance Service of Manchester (ASM) does. According to South Windsor police records, both ASM ambulances were tied up on other calls and ultimately did not respond until 3:14 p.m., approximately 45 minutes after Patrie allegedly collapsed.

At its last full meeting on Dec. 17, the South Windsor Town Council unanimously approved having Town Manager Matthew Galligan go out to bid for ambulance services that have advanced life support capability.

The town currently has what is known as “paramedic intercept” in which a South Windsor Ambulance meets up with an advance life support ambulance en route to the hospital to provide advance life support, Gorman said.

In an interview over the summer, Gorman said that it would cost the town between $500,000 and $700,000 to upgrade its ambulance service from basic to advance life support.

But at the Town Council meeting on Dec. 17, Galligan said that the town could obtain advance life support services for no additional cost. He did not elaborate how that would be done.

The Patrie incident is not the first time that South Windsor has inquired about its ambulance services.

In March 2012, Gorman appeared before the council to discuss the services that South Windsor Ambulance provides.

At that meeting, Gorman said that South Windsor Ambulance responds to 1,600 to 1,800 calls per year. Out of those calls, about 40 percent are “advance life support calls,” Gorman said.

At that meeting, Town Councilor Keith Yagaloff said that he was wondering if a policy change should be made.

Editor's Note: This story was updated to reflect information from the official notice received by the town clerks of South Windsor and Manchester on Dec. 21, 2012.
Robin M January 03, 2013 at 07:56 PM
What will suing the town do? Why is everyone so sue happy. It is most definetly a tragedy but suing will not solve anything!!!!!
JK124 January 03, 2013 at 09:13 PM
Are you kidding? Suing won't solve anything here? For one thing, it'll make it painfully incumbent upon the Town of South Windsor to invest in ambulance services that can provide the type of care needed by the 40% of those calls. Perhaps the advanced care that was available by groups like ASM could have prevented a family from burying a 15 year old. I think Robin needs to refine her knee-jerk response and realize that if this lawsuit pushes SW to improve their services and that improvement saves even one person from dying unnecessarily, this lawsuit will be entirely worth it.
Jon Crickmore January 06, 2013 at 12:01 AM
Waiting 45 min for an ambulance is 40 good reasons for suing the town. 1 for each min longer than it should have taken.
James Bond January 06, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Make the system,that you may need someday,better?

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