Florida nursing home employees face manslaughter charges for patient deaths after hurricane

Four Florida nursing home workers were charged Tuesday with manslaughter in connection with the deaths of 12 patients in the wake of Hurricane Irma in September 2017, USA Today reported.

Hollywood, Fla., Police Chief Chris O’Brien said the staffers “neglected their duties” by not evacuating residents as temperatures inside the building climbed to near 100 degrees after the storm knocked out power to the air conditioning system.

ADVERTISEMENT

Eight patients died of heat exposure on Sept. 13, 2017, and four more died over the next several days and weeks, the newspaper reported.

O’Brien said a medical examiner ruled the deaths homicides and that investigators interviewed more than 500 people and seized 55 computers. Further arrests may be forthcoming, he added.

Former administrator Jorge Caballo and night-shift nursing supervisor Sergo Colin have been charged with 12 counts of aggravated manslaughter, while two nurses face similar charges, in addition to evidence tampering.

“The families sitting here today should not have lost their loved ones this way," O’Brien said in a news conference this week. “They placed their faith and trust in the facility ... and that trust was betrayed. They have been living an absolute nightmare.”

An attorney for Colin said the employees called both the power company and then-Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who had given his cell number to nursing homes, but received no assistance.

“For three days, these people did everything possible they could to keep everyone stable,” attorney David Frankel said. Scott, now a senator, said the workers should have called 911.

Jim Cobb, an attorney for Carballo, made similar remarks while criticizing prosecutors.

“They have attempted in these charges to blame health care workers and caregivers who showed up to work and were at their posts in the middle of a natural disaster emergency and did the very best they could,” Cobb told the Miami Herald.

Carballo and the nurses surrendered to police earlier this week.