By Pat Maurer
Seven months after the death of their only child, Thomas and Stacy Ellis of Farwell are still looking for answers.
Thirteen-year-old Katlynn Renee’ Wingate, a sixth grader in Farwell Schools, died December 8 after her heart stopped during an ambulance transfer from MidMichigan Medical Center in Clare to Saginaw’s Covenant Health Clare.
Katlynn’s mother Stacy had taken her to the Clare Emergency room with “breathing problems,” her stepfather said. “She was at her grandparents and her mother took her in. She was having some problems but was able to walk in to the hospital by herself without a problem.”
Thomas said things were more serious than they had thought and his wife called him to come to the hospital. “I was at work,” he said. The nurse at the hospital said Katlynn would have to be taken to Covenant because they couldn’t treat her here. Her doctor wanted to keep her until her breathing stabilized, but I guess he was overruled.”
United Rescue, which has since gone out of business, was called to do the transfer. “We wanted one of us to ride with her in the ambulance, but we were told ‘no’,” Ellis said, “they said to pack a bag, since she would probably be there a few days, and meet us there, so we grabbed some things and headed for Saginaw.”
He went on, “We were near Eastman Road when Stacy’s mom called to say they had called her to say they were taking her to Midland’s ER instead because her heart had stopped. That was around 11:20 a.m.”
“We can’t find out what happened after that.”
He said after waiting for some time at MidMichigan Medical Center’s Emergency Center, a doctor told them Katlynn was gone … they had done everything they could. “We asked what happened, but we never really got an answer,” Ellis said.
MidMichigan Health Contact Bernadette Stocking said, “Legally I cannot release any information about what happened other than to confirm the death.” She did say the family could contact the coroner’s office, which might have more information. Spokesperson Donna Rapp responded to inquiries about Katlynn’s death with a contact person for the parents to access the medical records about her death.
Ellis said they would be calling.
“We just don’t understand this,” Thomas said. “Every morning we wake up with questions…every morning. We just want to know what happened. We keep hoping someone will be able to give us some answers.”
The couple said they hired a lawyer to try and find out what happened, but even he has been unable to get the answers they are looking for. “United Rescue went out of business right after this happened and he hasn’t been able to find out,” Ellis said.
Ellis said the only thing he was told was that another paramedic who was traveling on U.S. 10 saw the ambulance pulled over and stopped to help. “I don’t know who that was,” he said.
The couple asked that an autopsy be performed and were told that was an unusual request. The autopsy results say Katlynn’s death was from “natural causes, complicated by asthma.” It also put the time of death at 12:50 p.m. “That’s more than an hour after we were told her heart had stopped,” Ellis said.
He said they have also requested a toxicology report, but haven’t gotten it yet.
“We just want to know what happened,” Ellis said again. He said Katlynn was a normal, healthy and active teen. He said she had asthma but was “growing out of it.”
“She had medication, but hardly had to use it anymore,” he said. “Her asthma wasn’t life threatening. She was doing good. She was healthy and happy and active, bike riding and doing other outdoor things.”
He said even their regular family doctor doesn’t understand how this could have happened.
The Ellis family is hoping someone who was there in the ambulance with Katlynn will contact them. “We would like to know where it happened,” he said, “and what time she died.”
He said anyone with information could call them at 989-339-5167.
“I wouldn’t want anyone to deal with what we have been through,” Ellis said. “Since she died, I’ve lost my job and we lost our home. And we still have these questions.”
“We would just like some closure.”