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Four Hillsborough County Fire Rescue workers suspended after woman dies following lack of care

No final decisions on the workers' employment status will be made until a hearing takes place.

Hillsborough County has suspended four fire rescue workers over an Independence Day incident where a woman died after not receiving care.

Lt. John “Mike” Morris, 36; Fire Medic Justin Sweeney, 36; Fire Medic Andrew J. Martin, 28; and Acting Lt. Cortney Barton, 38 were placed on paid administrative leave Friday.

The county's Human Resources department has been investigating the incident since July 11.

According to county documents, Nicole Benhamou called 911 just after 3 a.m. on July 4 to say she needed an ambulance because she found her 30-year-old daughter, Crystle Galloway, passed out in the bathroom and moved her to a bed, where Galloway had a swollen lip and was drooling from her mouth.

Fifteen minutes later, two Hillsborough County Fire Rescue units arrived at the scene to find Galloway on the third floor -- needing help getting out of the home.

The 30-year-old had given birth via C-section a few days prior and hadn't been feeling well since, her mom told first responders.

Less than 13 minutes after arriving at the scene, the four Fire Rescue workers -- who were later suspended -- put Galloway in her mother's car, and let the mom drive away, an incident report said.

Galloway later died.

According to a county spokesperson, an official review found the employees failed to properly assess the patient, allowed the patient to leave without executing an informed refusal and failed to properly document and falsified the true nature of the call.

County documents claim the four workers never asked Galloway or her mother why she wanted to be taken to the hospital. They also didn't obtain her vital signs to determine if treatment was needed, the documents say.

Investigators say the patient couldn't move on her own when the emergency workers arrived.

"This alone, along with the patient presenting with acute stroke like signs and symptoms would require Advanced Life Support (ALS) treatment," a pre-disciplinary document said.

County investigators claim the workers classified the incident as a canceled call without medical transport and wrote "no medical attention needed." Investigators say it was clear from Galloway's symptoms that she needed both medical attention and EMS transport.

The four employees were given pre-disciplinary packets on Monday. A hearing will take place on July 31 -- at the earliest.

No final decisions on the workers' employment status will be made until a hearing happens.

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