Kentucky Paramedic Beaten, Fired Following Internet Post

Kentucky Paramedic Beaten, Fired Following Internet Post

News May 30, 2007

May 30--CLINTON, Ky. -- The Clinton-Hickman County Ambulance Service fired John Snow one day after he was beaten up for allegedly posting pictures online of a local teenager's fatal car crash.

More than 100 people cheered when the agency's board announced the paramedic's termination Tuesday night.

The board heard emotional and tearful public comments for about 30 minutes before going into closed session for 90 minutes. The board members and ambulance executive director Paula Boaz came out to the parking lot to make the announcement.

"John Snow is no longer an employee of the Clinton-Hickman County Ambulance Service effective immediately," Boaz said. Chairman Bill Little said Boaz's decision was supported by the board.

Little and Boaz declined further comment, citing a state investigation into Snow in connection with the online posting of photos from other crashes.

Josh Smith, 16, of Clinton died May 20 in a wreck on Ky. 58. Several people in the community said Snow posted a photo of Smith's crash, taken with a cell phone, on along with a blog about his work as a paramedic. Snow, a 10-year employee, continued to work as a paramedic while under investigation by the Kentucky Board of Emergency Management Service over the previous online postings.

Lanetta Bodkin of Clinton, Josh Smith's aunt, was one of four people charged in Snow's assault on Monday. She was elated by Snow's termination.

"If they truly fired him, I'm so happy. It was worth going to jail for that," Bodkin said. "He has to know that this is not OK to do this."

Phillip Smith, Josh's father, also was charged in the assault. He and Bodkin, his sister, along with dozens of supporters, watched from the Hickman County High School parking lot across the street because they were barred from going within 300 yards of the ambulance service after the assault.

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The elder Smith said Snow has caused a great deal of controversy, and his termination will "do the county good." He also holds no animosity toward Boaz.

"I don't blame her at all. I think she's done a great job with the ambulance service," Smith said. "I just hope no one else has to go through this. Burying a child is the hardest thing for a person to do, and I want others to be spared."

Bodkin said she had no regrets about taking part in the assault of Snow. She showed bruises on her left arm and across the knuckles on her left hand that she said was from the altercation. Bodkin said she and her husband drove to the ambulance service after she learned that her brother was already headed there to confront Snow.

"When I got there, there was a bunch of name calling and punches were being thrown," Bodkin said. "And then I hit (Snow) like I was a man. No, I don't regret it, because he deserved it. I didn't mind going to jail because I realize that if you play, you have to pay."

Snow was treated for minor injuries, Police Chief Tracy House said.

Smith, Bodkin and her husband, Anthony Bodkin, surrendered later Monday night at the Hickman County Detention Center, where they were charged with felony assault, House said. Ricky Omar was arrested Tuesday on the same charge. Clinton police and the Hickman County Sheriff's Department were continuing their investigation.

Smith and the Bodkinses were released earlier Tuesday on $2,000 unsecured bonds

House said he had not seen the online photos, but talked with several people who said they learned of the posting through third parties.

"There's a rumor, we haven't proved that point at this time," House said earlier on Tuesday.

During the comment portion of the board meeting, Darla Smith, Josh's mother, and many supporters demanded that Snow be fired. Others were vocal in wanting the assault charges dropped.

"He's caused too much heartache for my family," Darla Smith said. "I'm not a violent person, but I'm glad my husband got a piece of him. He had no business using a cell phone to take photos."

Boaz said that other officials were at the crash scene taking photos, and she had asked Snow to take photos of the entire crash scene. Boaz also told the crowd that Snow was allowed to work during the state investigation because her attorney advised her that Snow would have to be suspended with pay while awaiting the outcome, which was not economically feasible for the small ambulance service.

Sun reporter Amy Burroughs contributed to this report.

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The Paducah Sun (Kentucky)
Matt Sanders
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