A Bronx County grand jury has returned an indictment charging Juan Garcia, a former ambulette driver, with criminally negligent homicide for causing the death of an 86-year-old nursing home resident.
The passenger, a resident of Gold Coast Care Center of Bronx, died one month after she was seriously injured when she was ejected from her wheelchair during medical transport.
The indictment filed against Garcia also charges him with endangering the welfare of an incompetent or physically disabled person. If convicted, Garcia faces up to four years in prison.
On August, 13, 2010, Garcia was driving the resident back to Gold Crest Care Center from a dialysis appointment. The driver, who was then working for Maeleen Ambulette Transport, Inc., admitted to Attorney General investigators that he failed to buckle the resident’s seatbelt before their return trip. At the intersection of Eastchester Road and Pelham Parkway at about 6:30 p.m., Garcia stopped the ambulette short and the elderly passenger was ejected from her wheelchair and thrown to the floor of the vehicle.
Instead of taking the visibly injured passenger, who cried out in pain, to a nearby hospital, Garcia drove to Gold Crest Care Center, which was farther away. Garcia even ignored a request from a certified nurse’s assistant who was on board to take the victim to the hospital. When the resident was finally taken to the hospital, she was diagnosed with a fractured hip and underwent surgery. The passenger never recovered from her injuries, and she died about one month after the incident due to complications from her injuries and surgery.
Garcia, 49, of Bronx, was arraigned in Bronx County Supreme Court and released on his own recognizance.