Woman Dies After Jumping From Ambulance in Texas
Aug. 29--Sitting on her bed in her Troup apartment, Tiny Pond pushed the button on her answering machine Tuesday.
First a crackle, then her daughter's voice called out, "Hey mama it's me. Will you pick up the phone?"
A short pause and then the voice on the machine calls out "hello" three times.
Hours later her daughter, 36-year-old Crystal Chevell Delaune, would be dead after jumping from an East Texas Medical Center ambulance taking her in for a mental and physical evaluation.
"I just don't understand what happened," Ms. Pond said. "I just don't know what to think caused all of this."
The Tyler Morning Telegraph obtained the Cherokee County Sheriff's incident report. The incident began when deputies were dispatched to 155 Henderson St. in Recklaw on a welfare check on Mrs. Delaune.
The report states that deputies were called by New Summerfield Police Chief Dusty Lee because Mrs. Delaune had been acting strangely, and Lee was worried about the mother and her three small home-schooled children.
The report states that Mrs. Delaune's husband, Jody, said she was found after running away from home earlier in the day but then jumped out of the pickup, ran into the home, saying everyone needed to pray before screaming out prayers, scaring her husband and children.
Delaune said his wife then made a pistol shape with her fingers and acted like she was shooting her young daughter in the head.
"Jody states that Crystal then started laughing very loudly for about 5 minutes straight, which really scared him. Jody states that Crystal told him that he and all of their children would die in a car wreck the next day," the report states.
Upon arriving at the home, Deputy Brent Dickson found Mrs. Delaune to be in delusional, and he and her husband decided she needed to get a mental evaluation.
Dickson placed the woman in his patrol car to go to Jacksonville to be evaluated, but she began acting ill, and he feared she might be in medical distress, so he called for an ambulance, according to reports.
Detective John Raffield, who was assigned the case, said Mrs. Delaune attempted to flee from the ambulance, but Dickson caught her and told her if she tried to leave again, he would handcuff her to the stretcher.
After calming her down, EMS personnel told Dickson they believed the woman would be fine.
But the report states three miles outside of Rusk, the woman unfastened the three restraints holding her to the stretcher and attempted to get out of the ambulance.
"(EMS) called for assistance from the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office to help with a combative subject, but called back in less than a minute and told CCSO dispatch to disregard and the patient was under control again," the report states.
EMS personnel locked the ambulance doors to keep the woman from getting out.
Five minutes later, the EMS crew called sheriff's dispatch again, but this time the report was that Mrs. Delaune had jumped from the ambulance and landed on U.S. Highway 69 just south of Jacksonville.
"... (EMS personnel) states that Mrs. Delaune jumped up from the stretcher and got to the rear doors of the ambulance, unlocked the doors and was attempting to jump out of the ambulance. (EMS personnel) said she tried to grab Mrs. Delaune's blue jean shorts to keep her inside the ambulance, but it was too late," the report states.
Mrs. Delaune was loaded back into the ambulance and transported to Mother Frances Jacksonville, where she later died from her injuries, including massive head trauma, the report states.
The paramedic told detectives she had worked in a maximum security psychiatric unit, and in all of her years of experience and observation, she said she did not really believe the woman would have committed this act.
Raffield said the investigation is ongoing.
"We are awaiting the toxicology reports and the full autopsy, so we might learn why this happened," he said.
Bill Jennings, director of ETMC Risk Management, said regarding a question of why EMS called for sheriff's department backup, "An issue arose that we felt warranted a call to law enforcement but it resolved itself quickly."
Jennings said there are protocols in place to deal with patients with mental health issues, and situations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
When asked whether the paramedics were working for ETMC EMS, he said, "Employment issues are considered confidential."
Back in her apartment in Troup, Crystal Delaune's mother said she wants to know why and how it all happened.
"I have lost a husband, sisters, parents, but nothing compares to losing a child. I just want to know why this happened," she said. "I miss my baby. She was my world."
Copyright 2012 - Tyler Morning Telegraph, Texas