Showing posts with label Deaths. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Deaths. Show all posts

March 4, 2019

30 Bodies a Day, With 1 Pathologist on Duty and No Help From The Federal Government, Puerto Rico Still in Crisis





Image result for puerto rico morgue
 One guess what is being kept for months on those containers....






BY CAMILO MONTOYA-GALVEZ, DAVID BEGNAUD


Melita Kimbrough's father Benjamin Costoso Perez died in early July 2018. His body is still inside a refrigerator in the backlog-ridden morgue in Puerto Rico's capital.
For about seven months, Kimbrough, who lives in Nevada, has been trying to claim her late father's body to no avail. She said she traveled to Puerto Rico about a month after her father died in Bayamón, a municipality in the outskirts of San Juan, but that a prolonged process with the morgue to confirm his identity has prevented her from receiving the body.
As of Sunday — approximately 240 days after her father's death — Kimbrough has not received his body.
"This is unnecessary. This is completely unnecessary. No one should have to go through this," she told CBS News. "There's just absolutely no closure. I'm almost numb at this point." 
On her first trip to Puerto Rico after her father's death, Kimbrough said officials at the Forensic Institute, the island's equivalent of a medical examiner, told her she could not see her father's body because it had begun to decompose. Attempting to confirm his identity to the morgue, she visited doctors and dentists in search of her father's medical records, but was unsuccessful.
After a few days, she said morgue officials allowed her to confirm her father's identity through an affidavit crafted with an attorney. After some back and forth, Kimbrough said she was shown a picture of her father and identified him. It was then that she said morgue officials told her the body could undergo an autopsy, which said occurred in early September 2018. According to Kimbrough, morgue officials told her she could obtain her father's body two weeks after the autopsy was completed.
In late October, however, she said Forensic Institute officials requested DNA evidence, which her aunt provided. But months later, the morgue has not released the body. Kimbrough said she continues to make frequent calls to check on the status of her father's case and she's also exploring legal remedies with her lawyer.
"It's cruel," she said.


An official at the Forensics Institute, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the press, confirmed Costoso Perez's body underwent an autopsy Sept. 6, 2018. The official told CBS News the process to confirm his identity and relation to Kimbrough and her family was delayed because the body came into the morgue with some decomposition. He added Costoso Perez lacked dental and fingerprint records, meaning they were unable to confirm his identity using those methods. 
The official said the results of the first DNA test yielded insufficient evidence to confirm his identity. He added a second DNA sample would be taken from the body this week and sent to an off-site lab, a process he said could last about two weeks. Asked how can it be possible that Costoso Perez's body — which he confirmed is stored in the morgue's sole refrigerator — has not been released to his family nearly eight months after his death, the official pointed to the insufficient manpower at the Forensic Institute.
Indeed, Kimbrough's ordeal is emblematic of the frustration experienced by many Puerto Rican families in recent years as a result of the mounting backlog of corpses in the island's sole morgue in San Juan, which serves the approximately 3.2 million U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico. Because of the backlog, some families are forced to wait weeks before they take custody of the bodies of their loved ones.
Bodies piling up in its morgue is not a new problem for the island. The current backlog of bodies is part of a systemic problem that has been plaguing the U.S. territory for years due to mismanagement, underfunding and understaffing, an issue exacerbated by the deaths and chaos from hurricanes María and Irma.

30 bodies a day, with 1 pathologist on duty

The Forensic Institute official who requested anonymity said the morgue receives between 20 and 30 bodies each day. On a normal week day, he said there are three pathologists on duty who can process about nine bodies in total. But on some days, the official added, there's only one on-duty pathologist in all of Puerto Rico.
The official said the number of full-time Forensic Institute staff members who process bodies — five pathologists who handle criminal cases, two forensic doctors who handle natural deaths and 11 auxiliary staff members — is not enough to curtail the backlog and handle the bodies that come in daily.
"If more personnel are not sent, this is going to continue like this and it won't improve," the official said.

"You need money. We need resources"

Puerto Rico's Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is well aware of the problems plaguing the island's morgue.
He has repeatedly asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deploy a second Disaster Mortuary Operations Response Team (DMORT), an outfit of federal forensic staff, to help reduce the backlog. Last week, however, FEMA denied the Puerto Rican government's request, citing the lack of an "immediate disaster-related threat."
A congressionally mandated fiscal board with control of spending in the U.S. territory recently announced it would allow Rosselló to use $1.5 million in funding to handle the morgue's backlog. But the governor told CBS News in a recent interview he is still working on a long-term solution to the issue. He said the reimbursement by the seven-member board will only allow him to hire temporary contractors, not full-time forensic staff, which said the island desperately needs.
"We need to at least double our capacity, and even maybe 120, 125 percent," he said. "And that's what we're committed to doing. As soon as we get the resources, we can the contracting out, right? But we need permanent jobs."
Rosselló stressed he's determined to fixing the problem on a permanent basis, saying he understands the suffering of family members who wait weeks to receive the bodies of their loved ones.
"I know that this is personal. This is hurtful, and it hurts me to see moms that are waiting for their kids' bodies," he said. "It hurts me to see family members in pain."

August 30, 2018

The Talk That Killer of Wife and Girls (Watts)Had a Double Live Might Be Confirmed by X Male Lover


 
 A man claiming to be the gay lover of accused US murderer Christopher Watts has told a US media outlet they had a 10-month affair.
Watts, of Colorado, has been charged with killing his pregnant wife, Shannan Watts, and their two young daughters – Bella, 3, and Celeste, 4.
Shanann's body was discovered in a shallow grave about 65km from the family's home in Frederick, a community in the oil and gas fields north of Denver. 
The girls' bodies were recovered from nearby oil tanks.
Watts told investigators that he killed his wife after discovering that she had strangled their daughters, after he told her he wanted to separate.
Watts told investigators that he killed his wife after discovering that she had strangled their two daughters, Bella, three, and Celeste, four, after he told her he wanted to separate.
Watts told investigators that he killed his wife after discovering that she had strangled their two daughters, Bella, three, and Celeste, four, after he told her he wanted to separate. (Facebook)
Now an anonymous man appeared on HLN’s ‘Crime and Justice’ TV show claiming he had met the accused on a dating app.
It comes amid intense media speculation in the US that Christopher Watts, 33, was having an extra-marital affair with a “co-worker” – presumed to be female. But yesterday, the anonymous man told host Ashleigh Banfield he had been approached by Watts in June 2017.
“He reached out to me and messaged me,” the man said.
“It was small talk. He told me his age. He had two daughters.”
Watts, 33, was arrested earlier this month over the slayings of his pregnant wife, Shanann Watts, 34, and their two young daughters.
Watts, 33, was arrested earlier this month over the slayings of his pregnant wife, Shanann Watts, 34, and their two young daughters. (AAP)
The purported gay lover said Watts’ profile listed him as straight.
“I asked why his profile said straight. He said he was not out and not ready to be out as far as sexuality.”
Court papers released last week revealed investigators had learned Watts was “actively involved in an affair with a co-worker”, something he had denied in police interviews.
Watts worked as an operator at Colorado oil and gas explorers  Andarko Petroleum.
He was fired on August 15, the day of his arrest.
Frank Rzucek the father of Shanann Watts, left, and her brother Frankie Rzucek attended court for Christopher Watts' arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse.
Frank Rzucek the father of Shanann Watts, left, and her brother Frankie Rzucek attended court for Christopher Watts' arraignment hearing at the Weld County Courthouse. (AP/AAP)
The bodies of his wife and daughters were found on property owned by the company.
Court documents stated the girls had been submerged in crude oil for four days.
In the HLN interview, the unidentified man said Christopher Watts talked about his wife before her death and said he had met one of their daughters.
“Bella made a comment… She asked if she could sleep with him and mommy,” he told Banfield. 
“That’s how I found out he was married. I asked why he lied to me. He told me he knew he wouldn’t have a chance with me if he told me he was married. He told me what I wanted to hear.’
A man claiming to be Christopher Watts' gay lover claimed that he and his wife Shannan were having marital troubles.
A man claiming to be Christopher Watts' gay lover claimed that he and his wife Shannan were having marital troubles. (Facebook)
Watts was also critical of his wife, according to the unidentified man.
“He told me his wife was verbally and emotionally abusive,” he said. 
“He told me he didn’t love her. She didn’t love him. I knew something was wrong at home.”
When Banfield asked the man if he thought Christopher Watts had killed his family, he replied that the husband and father should be jailed for the crimes.
“‘I hope he gets convicted and I hope he stays in prison for the rest of his life.’
During a court appearance last week, Watts did not enter a plea to three first-degree murder charges, two counts of killing a child under 12, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.
He is due back in court in November.
 


Thanks To Trump's FEMA and Silence from the Gov the Real Deaths in PR are 46 Times Higher Than reported


2975 deaths and counting..............



 

By Leyla SantiagoCatherine E. Shoichet and Jason Kravarik, CNN

Puerto Rico's government raised its official Hurricane Maria death toll to 2,975 on Tuesday in the wake of a new estimate from researchers. 
The new figure is 46 times larger than the previous toll the Puerto Rican government released in December 2017, when officials said 64 people had died as a result of the storm.
It comes on the same day researchers from George Washington University revealed findings from a study on storm-related deaths commissioned by the US commonwealth's government.
"This is unprecedented devastation," Gov. Ricardo Rossello told reporters.
    But the new death toll is only an approximation, not a concrete list of names, Rossello said.
    Moving forward, he said, officials will continue to investigate deaths from the storm and refine the official tally.
    "This number can change," he said. "It could be less, it could be more, as time passes." 




          





     It could take months or years, he said, to come up with a complete list of storm-related deaths.
    "We are using the best science available ... to be able to give a sense of closure to all of this," he said. "The truth is there is a lot of work to do."
    The official Hurricane Maria toll matters in part because families of those who died in the aftermath of the storm are eligible to have some funeral expenses covered by the US government. Experts say higher death tolls drive more disaster aid. And knowing precisely how and why people died can help authorities prevent future hurricane-related deaths.
    A key question: Will this new figure -- stemming from a study conducted at the request of Puerto Rican officials -- provide any closure to families who have long argued their loved ones died because of the storm, but hadn't received any official acknowledgment? 

    A new study

    Researchers from George Washington University released a study earlier Tuesday, calculating excess deaths that occurred in the US commonwealth between September 2017 and February 2018. 
    The study, commissioned after the September 2017 storm, followed a number of others like it.
    And recently, the Puerto Rican government had quietly admitted the official toll was higher than its December 2017 tally. In a report to Congress earlier this month, the US commonwealth said documents show that 1,427 more deaths occurred in the four months after the storm than "normal," compared with deaths that occurred the previous four years. 
    But Tuesday's estimate was an even higher number.
    Researchers behind George Washington University's study said they felt they were able to provide a more accurate estimate because they took into account additional factors such as migration.
    "I do think this study helps to validate that sense that many people had that there were just too many deaths," said Lynn Goldman, dean of the university's Milken Institute School of Public Health. 
    But she also stressed that Tuesday's report marks only the first phase of the study. 
    "In the next phase, we would like to dig down deeper into that number to understand among all the deaths that occurred, which of them were related to Hurricane Maria, which of them would not have occurred if it hadn't been for the storm? We're not able to say that now," Goldman said.
    She acknowledged that a complete list may never be possible.
    "At the end of the day," she said, "we may never be able to fully identify all those 2,975 people." 

    'We are not going to revive them'

    With many different estimates emerging, it's hard to know whom to believe, said Lourdes Rodriguez, whose father, Natalio, died in January
    "This is up and down numbers. No one knows how or from what (source) is the real number," Rodriguez said. "Due to the island being shut down there was no way of knowing anything for a week or week and a half after the event."
    Deaths in PR still attributed to Maria
    Deaths in PR still attributed to Maria 03:47
    Natalio Rodriguez's death hasn't been officially classified as related to the storm, but his family believes Maria was to blame. He died after the generator that was running his breathing machine ran out of gas.
    And no study, Lourdes Rodriguez said, can make up for what she and so many others lost.
    "We are not going to revive them, unfortunately. We just have to be prepared or get prepared for the next event," Rodriguez said. "September is one of the hottest months of the year, and you see people going to the beach and living in 'la la land' as if nothing is going to come."

    Governor: 'I made mistakes' 

    The George Washington University study also found that the risk of dying as a result of the storm was the highest for people living in Puerto Rico's poorest municipalities, and that older, male Puerto Ricans had a notably higher risk of death after Maria. 
    In addition, researchers looked at how storm-related deaths were certified, and analyzed communication about deaths after the disaster. 
    Among the study's conclusions: Officials did nothing to respond to public criticisms and concerns about political motivations that surged when the official tally of deaths jumped from 16 to 34 shortly after President Trump visited and praised how low the storm's death toll had been.
    Puerto Ricans react to Trump's visit
    Puerto Ricans react to Trump's visit 
    The governor admitted Tuesday that he'd made mistakes in handling the situation.
    "I agree I made mistakes. I agree on that. ... This could have been done differently. I recognize all that," he said. "However, I reject the notion that this was somehow connected to any political consideration. My only consideration is the well-being of the people of Puerto Rico. My only consideration was getting the best available information and the truth out there."
    Rossello said he'd signed an executive order for a commission to begin looking at researchers' recommendations for improving communication and the death certification process, and that a memorial would be built to honor the storm's victims.

    Multiple estimates

    CNN and other news organizations have been raising questions about the official Hurricane Maria death toll for months. In November, CNN reporters surveyed 112 funeral homes across the island, about half the total. Reporters found that funeral home directors identified 499 deaths they considered to be hurricane-related. In December, The New York Times estimated 1,052 "excess deaths" occurred after Maria. Others produced similar estimates.
    In May, a team that included researchers from Harvard University published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimating that 793 to 8,498 people died in Maria's wake, a range that some academics have criticized as overly broad. The study's midpoint estimate -- 4,645 deaths -- became a rallying cry for activists upset by what they see as a lack of accountability for the scale of the catastrophe by officials in Puerto Rico and the United States. 
    This year, CNN and the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, or CPI, in Puerto Rico sued the island's Demographic Registry to make public a database with information about everyone who died in the months after the storm.  
     These trucks serving for temporary morgue because there was either not enough electric for the morgue or too many bodies. They stayed out there for months.
                                                                    

    The network also created an online database the public can use to search for the names of all the people who died in the months after the storm -- and tell reporters about deaths that may have been related to Maria.

    June 7, 2018

    Calls for a 911 Type of Commission to Investigate Puerto Rico Underreported Deaths




     A week after a Harvard report estimated that thousands of people died in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria — while the official death toll sits at 64 — several congressional Democrats on Wednesday called for an investigation into the death toll.
    The members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said that they will introduce a bill next week aiming to set up an independent commission examining the death toll and how it was handled — similar to the investigation established after the September 11 attacks. But the bill has little chance of going anywhere as Republicans control Congress, and the CHC is made up of entirely Democrats.
    Representatives including Nydia Velazquez and Adriano Espaillat from New York, Darren Soto from Florida, and Bennie Thompson from Mississippi, said the Harvard study released last week was a reminder that federal and Puerto Rican officials have failed to reliably account for the number people who died on the island after the Category 4 storm.
    "These low numbers have justified a vastly underfunded disaster," said Florida Rep. Darren Soto.
    The government's official death count came under suspicion first by the Puerto Rico Center for Investigative Reporting and BuzzFeed News just days after the hurricane devastated the island.
    "These numbers drive the narrative about what happened in Puerto Rico and how our government responded, and how we should rebuild going forward," Velazquez said. "We all remember when Donald Trump sat in Puerto Rico and pointed to a death count of 16, suggested that Maria was not, and I quote, "a real catastrophe'."
    New York Rep. Adriano Espaillat called relying on non-governmental studies like the Harvard report and the GWU study commissioned by Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló "the highest form of neglect and negligence."
    "How could we, government, have to rely on private institutions to do our job?" he said.
    "We as government must be responsible… These are people that died, they have families, those families deserve to know what was the level of tragedy that hit Puerto Rico," he continued.
    Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson added that the Government Accountability Office has accepted his request to audit the death toll. Thompson and Velazquez made the request in a letter in December.
    Nidhi Prakash
    Nidhi Prakash


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