Chicago Pays $300K to Family of Patient Killed in Fall From Cot

A chronically ill woman fell off a gurney, hit her head and died because it was being pushed by one paramedic instead of two, resulting in an expected $300,000 settlement to her family, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago Fire Department policy requires that two people push gurneys -- one at the head of the patient and the other at the feet -- to provide stability.

However, in the 2009 incident in which responders were called to assist 74-year-old Mary Strazz, they had the smallest member of the crew pushing the gurney by himself, says Jeff Comeau, an attorney representing the woman's family.

"He pushed it into a depression or hole in the parking lot and lost control of the gurney. It tipped over. She struck her head on the pavement and died several days later," he says.

The responding crew denied having violated the policy, but a condominium resident who watched the incident testified that "It looked to him like a fraternity hazing," Comeau says.

"They had three or four very large, strong-looking firemen or paramedics who just stood there watching while the smallest member of the crew pushed the gurney by himself... With conscious disregard for the suffering of the patient, they violated their own policy."

The $300,000 settlement is expected to be approved Monday.