New Hampshire Union Leader
Mon, Apr. 21

Welcome guest, you have 2 views left. | Register | Sign In
News | Sports | Business | A&E | Opinion

Home » News


Family of emergency room patient, now paralyzed, still looking for answers



MANCHESTER— The emergency room patient whose cause of paralysis is under investigation by state and local officials has been moved to Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center, where he remains paralyzed and awaits an explanation of what happened to him, the New Hampshire Union Leader has learned.
Manchester resident Fern Ornelas has been at the facility for the last three weeks, according to a family member. Ornelas does not remember anything that happened after being struck by Elliot Hospital security guards at the hospital emergency room on Oct. 16, said the person, who asked not to be identified.

Manchester resident Fern Ornelas has been at the facility for the last three weeks, according to a family member. Ornelas does not remember anything that happened after being struck by Elliot Hospital security guards at the hospital emergency room on Oct. 16, said the person, who asked not to be identified.

Ornelas was charged with assault after the altercation, booked at the Manchester police station and sent to Valley Street Jail around midnight. But by the next morning, the jail medical staff had Ornelas returned to the Elliot Hospital, and he was transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital.

His family, which has been cautious in its remarks to the public, subsequently said Ornelas' neck was broken and he is paralyzed from the neck down.

Shortly after the injuries became known, local and state prosecutors opened a criminal investigation. Prosecutors in the Attorney General's Office say Hillsborough County Attorney Patricia LaFrance has the lead oversight in the investigation and referred questions to her.

Last week, LaFrance said she has not received the final investigation from State Police Sgt. Fred Lulka, the investigator in charge of the case. Efforts to reach Lulka this week were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, Manchester residents who know Ornelas await an explanation.

"You don't have to be a genius to figure out what happened," said Phil Provencher, a friend of Ornelas. He said they both grew up in east Manchester.

"There's a lot of people (mad) about what's happened. This could have happened to anyone," he said.

The family member interviewed this week said Ornelas spoke to investigators from the Attorney General's Office on Dec. 17. Ornelas spoke about the emergency room incident. But Ornelas had nothing to say about being booked at the police department or sent to the Valley Street Jail.

Next thing Ornelas knew, he woke up at the Massachusetts General Hospital, the person said. Investigators told Ornelas they were 97 percent complete with their work, the person said.

Meanwhile, little has changed in Ornelas' condition. He cannot walk or use his hands. He has had a low-grade fever since arriving at Crotched Mountain, the person said.

Ornelas' physicians would prefer he enter the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, which has acute-care facilities and rehabilitation hospitals in several Massachusetts locations. But because he is on Medicaid, Ornelas is at Crotched Mountain, the person said.

mhayward@unionleader.com




Comments


To improve the chance of seeing your comment posted here or published in the New Hampshire Union Leader:

Note: Comments are the opinion of the respective poster and not of the publisher.

stuart urie said:

"There's a lot of people (mad) about what's happened. This could have happened to anyone,"
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 7:10 am

Mike Langenfeld said:

Get a good attorney and get out of Crocheted Mountain and into Spaulding Rehab. Elliot should be footing the bill...this obvious happened with the encounter with the security guards. They're 97% done so they know who should be footing the bill.
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 7:41 am

steven sadezwicz said:

I am sorry for all involved my brother was killed in a low security holding cell it's disgusting
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 7:44 am

steven sadezwicz said:

I am sorry for all involved my brother was killed in a low security holding cell it's disgusting
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 7:45 am

Craig Donnal said:

And the person he beat up was hurt pretty bad too. Unfortunately this guy, who was out of control, came out on the short end. Of course no one has anything to say....You can thank a country full of ambulance chaser lawyers for that.
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 7:57 am

karen deffina said:

What, No CAMERA'S around???????????????I'm not optomistic that a favorable result for Mr. Ornelas take place. Everyone seems to protect their own. Someone broke Mr. Ornelas' neck and most likely, someone saw the person that did it but, is toooooo cowardly to report that person.Prayers go out to Mr. Ornelas and his familyKaren Deffina
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 8:40 am

Robin Curtis said:

Move him from rehab to prison. He precipitated his injury. Don't attack people unless you are ready to accept the consequences for your actions.
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 9:30 am

Dean Frazier said:

Mike Langenfield, if it happened at the Elliot, then the hospital should not be footing the bill as the guard in question was protecting himself, patients and other employees from Ornelas' violent behavior. It's very plausible that he was injured in the fight he caused at the hospital. If it happened at the jail on Valley St, then the county will be on the hook. There are plenty of cameras at all three facilities he was taken to and hopefully the truth will come from this source. Sadly, this another person with a mental illness looking to get the medication he needed and many people have been hurt by cracks in the system.
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 11:08 am

Joseph King said:

Ahh, another comment from Robin Curtis, who implies that justice has been well served up until now and that even those suffering from mental breakdowns deserve a good beating or a death sentence before seeing a judge. I wonder at which academy Robin learned to think like this?
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 11:11 am

Mike Redding said:

We need more cameras and the FBI. The FBI should take over policing in NH and straighten this crap out. Enough is enough.
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 11:49 am

Chris Lambert said:

Wow, some of you people are heartless and vicious! SHAME ON YOU! This was a respectable man suffering from a mental illness for God's sake. Sometimes mental illness can cause a person to act or do things they normally wouldn't do. The goal should be to protect them from THEMSELVES and not just others. Had he been properly treated and subdued this may not have happened but instead he was left in that mental state to WAIT for an unbearable amount of time and he couldn't handle it anymore. The security guards and police staff should know how to control the situation not escalate it into a fight. Repeatedly punching a man in the head or slamming his head into a floor is way beyond restraining a man to protect the public. Sometimes just talking calming is far more effective while restraining someone than acting like a combatant along with them. Clearly this Officer or Guard made a wrong choice in how he wanted to respond towards a mental patient which clearly shows they need proper training. Fern wasn't some rap sheet criminal or a drunk he was a man that was in a psychotic episode in the throws of his mental illness and he deserved to be taken better care of!! NH hospitals are just NOT equipped to handle mental health emergencies adequately enough and we need proper facilities to care for such patients. Now, shame on all of you for saying he should be in jail...he is already living in one! he is trapped in his own body and cannot move for the rest of his life!!!
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 1:29 pm

Carl Wilson said:

The Valley St. Jail, aka The Gulag of Manchester
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 1:42 pm

John Taylor said:

I'd like to hear the other side to this story. Something tells me this guy isn't quite so innocent.
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 1:54 pm

Chris Lambert said:

John. your ignorant.
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 2:52 pm

John Taylor said:

Chris Lambert.....how exactly am I ignorant because I want to know all the facts? Seems to me you're the ignorant one with the knee jerk reaction here. Were you there, witnessed everything? Didn't think so.
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 4:47 pm

frederick hughes said:

Next time he'll do as he's instructed to do. No back sass. No messing with the hired help. Blue tarps are on sale at Harbor Freight. Buy a couple, prop them up with a few sticks down by the river. And stay away from the booze.
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 8:21 pm

Joseph King said:

frederick hughes, Congratulations!!! You get the incredibly-ignorant-comment of the day award! You can pick up your trophy tomorrow, I think lloyd C still has it.
(Report Abuse)

January 9, 2014 10:06 pm

Post a comment


You must sign in before you can post comments. If you are experiencing issues with your account please e-mail abuse@unionleader.com.



View Full Site | Subscribe | Deal of the Day | Contact Us

Union Leader Corp.