PASCO Co. Fla. (WFLA) – Dawn Crowder can be heard writhing in pain in the background of a 911 call, but her symptoms were not enough to prompt even minimal medical care from a paramedic who is now under investigation.
The 61-year-old died only hours after the initial emergency call to Pasco County Fire Rescue, after Nathan Register “failed to perform any evaluations or examinations,” according to an order report from the Florida Department of Health.
“She’s just screaming in pain, holding her head,” Ivy Graciano said in the recorded call obtained by 8 On Your Side. “She’s screaming with a headache and nausea.”
According to her daughter, Crowder loved her family, playing with her grandchildren and gardening. She was visiting the Graciano’s home in the Ehren Cutoff area.
Graciano and her husband Felipe said they thought Crowder was having a stroke when they heard her yell from a bedroom around 4:30 a.m. on March 31.
“She said that her head hurt,” Felipe Graciano recalled. “She was screaming and said ‘I want to go [to the hospital.] I want to go.’ And my wife said, ‘she wants to go.'”
But the fire rescue crew did not take Crowder to the hospital, and according to the Department of Health, Register “failed to conform to the prevailing standards” of patient care, including not performing a stroke assessment or obtaining vital signs.
The impact of that decision hit after the second emergency call later in the day.
“She’s not breathing,” Felipe Graciano said to the dispatcher as he fought back tears. “She’s not even breathing. I think she’s dead.”
Graciano said when he realized Crowder had died, he was “shocked and sad.”
“I told my wife, I said honey, I’m sorry but she’s gone,” he said. “She’s gone.”
Crowder’s daughter Cassa Smith had just talked to her mother on the phone.
“I will never forget the moment that I got the phone call that my mother, my best friend, had passed away,” Smith said. “I had talked to her the day prior, and everything was normal, just like when we talked every day.”
Smith did not know about the lack of treatment until 8 On Your Side showed her the DOH report that also states, “Register attempted to cover up his conduct.”
“Mr. Register fraudulently documented the encounter as a ‘dry run,'” the DOH report stated.
Crowder will remember her mother as a “bright light” with a big smile, but six months after she died, she is left with questions.
“We will always be left to wonder what could have happened if she would have been provided the proper medical attention that she deserved,” Smith said.
Register has not responded to a request for comment and Pasco Fire Rescue spokesman Corey Dierdorff said he could not comment because the case involves an ongoing DOH investigation.
Dierdorff has not answered questions about when department employment ended for Register, whose paramedic license is currently suspended by the DOH as the investigation continues.
State statutes may protect Register from civil and criminal charges, but for Smith, the important next step is exposing what happened.
“I see weeds growing in her garden and flower beds. I see letters and presents meant for her grandchildren and great-nieces and great-nephew that she never got to give,” Smith said. “All that I can hope and pray for is that this doesn’t happen to anybody else, because the pain that this has left our family with is indescribable.”