ORANGEBURG, SC (WRDW/WAGT/Gray News) - It started with a few 911 calls on Sept. 9, 2018, about a naked man on Interstate 95, according to a report.
“I don’t know if you are going to believe me or not, but I just had a naked guy come walk up on me on the side of the road, and I took off and I think he jumped on my catwalk,” one caller said.
When Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived to grab Paul Tarashuck, 26, they believed he was on drugs. He was having a schizophrenic episode.
Toxicology reports show he had no drugs in his system.
He died four hours after he was let go after being struck by a car.
In March, South Carolina authorities found the two EMTs who responded to the scene, Alison Harmon and Jamie Givens, failed to care for Paul Tarashuk and abandoned him when they should have taken steps to protect him.
Body cam captured by one of the deputies at the scene showed Paul Tarashuk appearing confused.
His disorientation made it difficult for deputies and EMT officials that eventually arrived at the scene to understand him.
“I’m getting this thing passed down,” one of the deputies said to a truck driver at the scene. “He ain’t going to jail, I promise you that. He ain’t my fish. I’ll get him some medical help.”
Nobody knew just how much Paul Tarashuk needed medical help more than his mother, Cindy Tarashuk.
“Paul did have a mental illness,” Cindy Tarashuk said. “Instead of helping him and recognizing what they should have been trained to recognize, they insulted him and called him names and mocked him.”
The deputy’s body cam was still recording when EMT workers arrived. They asked Paul Tarashuk for his name over and over again, but he didn’t respond.
It’s clear in the video they’re getting agitated.
"What's your name?" one EMT said. "Tell us your damn name, please."
He continued to not respond.
"Stop acting stupid," the EMT said, "You are a grown man."
The longer Paul Tarashuk sat in silence, the shorter their patience becomes.
"Tell me your name," the EMT said. "We will let you go so I can go back to bed."
“She is being serious,” the deputy said back.
“I am being [expletive] serious,” the EMT said. “I’m sleepy. Give me your damn name so I can go home, for real. I am tired.”
Cindy Tarashuk is still shocked about what happened.
“Even though he wasn’t capable of signing himself out that he doesn’t want help, they just let him walk out of the ambulance,” Cindy Tarashuk said.
The deputy on scene then offered to give Tarashuk a ride.
“Do not walk on the interstate,” the deputy said to Tarashuk. “Do not walk on the shoulder of the road. You are not under arrest. I am going to give you a ride.”
“Then the police officer took him 18 miles to Santee and dropped him off in a closed gas station,” Cindy Tarashuk said.
But that’s not where Paul Tarashuk’s story ends. It ends four hours later with his death after he was hit by a car.
The same EMS crew was called to the scene where Paul Tarashuk was struck.
“There is just no words to explain how our family feels,” Cindy Tarashuk said.
Paul Tarashuk, his family said, was a fun-loving son, brother and friend.
“He didn’t choose to have an illness,” she said. “It’s something he had needed to be treated like any other person with an illness.”
Paul Tarashuk was a protector on his own. He once saved the life of an elderly woman driving the wrong way on the interstate.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control found the two EMT’s violated the EMS Act of South Carolina.
Harmon, a paramedic, had her certificate suspended for 18 months, but has an EMT certification which allows her to work during her suspension.
Givens’ EMT certificate was suspended for six months.