Woman still listed critical after setting fire to herself
By 08/14/2003 00:00:00
Aunt claims emergency crews were incompetent
The Ellis County Press
ELLIS COUNTY - A young 27-year-old mother suffered second and third degree burns over most of her body, when she reportedly set herself on fire, after dousing herself in lighter fluid July 23, Ellis County Sheriff Lt. Danny Williams said.
Relatives told investigators the young mother suffers from bio-polar disorder.
Williams would not release the young mother's name because he said the case was still under investigation by the Ellis County Sheriff's department and Ellis County Child Protective Services.
An aunt of the mother, Carol Singleton, said she is frustrated at the county's ambulance service, East Texas Medical Center, for what she felt was incompetence.
'I was just so upset that they didn't seem to know what to do,' said Singleton.
Singleton said it took paramedics about 40 minutes to arrive, even though the incident occurred, 'six miles from the (Ferris) fire station.'
Ron Schwartz, ETMC director of operations, said, 'it took just a touch over 21 minutes' for ETMC paramedics to arrive on the scene from its Red Oak station.
Upon arriving at the scene, sheriff's records stated, medical personnel found the young lady in an outdoor pond on her aunt's property in the 300 block of Ridgewood near FM 780 toward India.
Singleton said her niece was in the pond for more than 90 minutes, until a family member talked her out of the pond to seek medical treatment.
'If she's conscious and alert, we can't take them to the hospital if they do not want to,' Schwartz said after reviewing the report filled by ETMC paramedics detailing the evening's events.
He said the report stated when the medics arrived, one got undressed and walked into the pond to get her out.
However, Schwartz was uncertain as to how long medical personnel tried to talk her out of the pond on her own.
She was then careflighted to Parkland Hospital in Dallas by a waiting helicopter.
Most cities utilize their own ambulance service for calls to serve their city, but ETMC handles calls in the county.
'We serve the bulk of Ellis County,' Ron Schwartz said referring to their dispatch locations in Red Oak, Ennis and Waxahachie.
Investigators said they still do not know why the young woman set herself on fire.
'At some point and time the baby was burned also,' Williams said.
It is not known if the seven-month-old baby girl crawled into the room to be near her mother or if the young woman brought her child into the bathroom.
Investigators said they did not know how the child had become burned, if she had touched her mother, or if the mother had touched the child.
Sheriff's reports state a relative went into the bathroom to check on the young child, after hearing her scream, and found the mother standing in the shower on fire with water shooting from the shower head onto her burned body.
The infant was treated for first and second degree burns at Parkland's burn unit and released to Child Protective Services custody.
During court proceedings on Aug. 5, Judge Bob Carroll, County Court At Law No. 1, allowed the maternal grandparents to provide care for the child.
A permanent decision of who will care for the child will be made in six months, after the alleged father undergoes paternity tests.
As of press time, the young woman was still listed in critical condition.
Third degree burns result in the skin dying, turning white and sensation loss.
Skin blisters and pain is more intense with second-degree burns.
First degree or superficial burns are the most minor burns, equivalent to a regular sunburn.