Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough paramedics 'failed to deliver adequate care' to stroke victim, internal review finds

Allen Hicks, 51, died Aug. 7, 2012, after slipping into a coma at Tampa General Hospital.

Allen Hicks, 51, died Aug. 7, 2012, after slipping into a coma at Tampa General Hospital.

TAMPA — A Tampa man who died from a stroke that went untreated at Hillsborough County jails should never have been incarcerated, but instead taken to a medical facility, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue officials concluded in a review of the agency's role in the troubling episode last year.

The inquiry found that Allen Daniel Hicks Sr., 51, "should have been transported to a local hospital" and that a paramedic "had several indicators that should have alerted him to the potential conditions affecting the patient," according to a memo by Fire Rescue Quality Management Chief Todd Carnell.

The two paramedics implicated in the review, Brad Jorgensen and Axel Figueroa, and Fire Rescue Capt. Jim Stephens, who was also present, were verbally counseled on how to better handle similar incidents in the future. Jorgensen additionally received an "informal counseling" that was recorded in his personnel file.

"All crew members … appeared truly remorseful for the incident that led to this fact finding," Carnell wrote in his July 2012 memo, which was obtained this week by the Tampa Bay Times.

The internal Fire Rescue records shed further light on Hicks' last days, which are now at the center of a lawsuit by Hicks' estate against Hillsborough County, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Richard Guzman.

Tampa lawyer Paul Rebein, who is representing Hicks' estate in the federal lawsuit, said the documents highlight the inadequate care Hicks received, in particular the fateful overlooking of classic stroke symptoms such as disorientation and weakness on one side of the body.

"It appears to me that the medical people were just not even considering a stroke," he said. "I question whether they're adequately trained."

Rebein also questioned whether the discipline meted to rescue workers was sufficient.

"This guy died over this," he said. "That seems to be a pretty light punishment."

Fire Rescue spokeswoman Jessica Damico declined to comment on the internal review, referring questions about the suit to Robert Brazel of the Hillsborough County Attorney's Office. Brazel declined to comment on the case because it is pending.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has already paid Hicks' heirs a wrongful-death settlement of $200,000, in addition to $800,000 paid by Armor Correctional Health Services, the private company that provides medical care to county prisoners.

Hicks, a popular youth baseball coach, veered into the left guardrail in the northbound lanes of Interstate 275 near Bearss Avenue on May 11, 2012. Passers-by called 911.

He was examined at the scene by Fire Rescue workers. Because he did not respond to commands to exit his stopped car, he was arrested and taken to the Orient Road Jail by Guzman, the Highway Patrol trooper.

Hicks was booked without a medical screening and placed in cells where he lay face down or tried to crawl using only the right side of his body. Roughly 36 hours passed before he was diagnosed with stroke symptoms and taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he slipped into a coma and died on Aug. 7.

The lawsuit asserts the paramedics and Stephens "breached the standard duty of care" by "failing to properly assess (Hicks') medical condition" and "failing to ensure that (Hicks) was immediately taken to the hospital for treatment."

Those allegations appear to find some support in Hillsborough Fire Rescue's internal review, which found Jorgensen was "not using the proper medical protocols that would have led him to have the patient transported … to the hospital" and "failed to deliver appropriate patient care."

Jorgensen described his interactions with Hicks at the scene in a letter to a supervisor. When questioned, he wrote, Hicks would "ramble on about another subject that wasn't relevant to this situation."

He wrote that when he tried to check Hicks' blood sugar, Hicks refused, voicing fears that he might contract AIDS from the needle.

Figueroa wrote in his own letter that Hicks was "revealing psychotic-like behavior" and that he and Jorgensen agreed Hicks should be transported to St. Joseph's Hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

Hicks refused an ambulance, Figueroa wrote, and the paramedics placed him in Guzman's custody.

The Highway Patrol trooper then took Hicks to jail instead of to the hospital.

Peter Jamison can be reached at or (813) 226-3337.

Hillsborough paramedics 'failed to deliver adequate care' to stroke victim, internal review finds 07/25/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 2, 2013 1:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Culpepper falls just short on 'Survivor' finale

    Human Interest

    In the end, Tampa lawyer Brad Culpepper fell just short, and the ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneer lost Survivor: Game Changers and the $1 million prize to Sarah Lacina, a police officer from Iowa.

  2. Families dispute claims that slain Tampa Palms roommates shared neo-Nazi beliefs


    TAMPA — Andrew Oneschuk never liked making small talk on the phone, his father said, but the last time the two spoke, something seemed off.

    Andrew Oneschuk and Jeremy Himmelman lived in a Tampa Palms apartment with Devon Arthurs and Brandon Russell. Oneschuk and Himmelman reportedly planned to move out.
  3. Brad Culpepper makes it to final 3 on Survivor, but jury picks Sarah

    The Feed

    UPDATE, WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Tampa's Brad Culpepper make it to the final 3 on Survivor, but jurors chose Sarah as the winner of the $1 million.

    Original report follows:

    "The Tables Have Turned" - Brad Culpepper, Tai Trang and Hali Ford on the fourth episode of SURVIVOR: Game Changers on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Jeffrey Neira/CBS Entertainment
  4. Steven Souza Jr. snaps out of slump as Rays defeat Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — After Tuesday's shutout loss to the Angels, Steven Souza Jr. stood in front of his locker and talked about his need to contribute to the offense.

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jesus Sucre (45) hugs right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) in the dugout after his two run home run in the second inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
  5. Tom Jones: Rays made right move sending Blake Snell to minors

    The Heater

    tom jones' two cents


    Blake Snell’s struggles on the mound were only one of the reasons the Rays sent him to the minors; some other red flags existed. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]