Family works to turn heartbreaking loss into push for new law
The death of Adam Bailey at just 24 years old left his family with so many questions. How did he die? Could he have been saved if someone had just called 911 earlier?
Early one morning in August of last year, an emergency call came from his Northport home. Friends told paramedics, Bailey may have taken too much Xanax after drinking earlier in the day. By the time 911 was called, Bailey was not breathing and had no pulse. A friend told dispatch he was administering CPR. Six days later, Adam Bailey was taken off life support.
Bailey's family says doctors told them, they could have saved their son's life had he gotten to the ER quicker. The autopsy report lists the cause of death as "seizure disorder" and the manner of death "undetermined." The toxicology report revealed no cause. ABC3340 News tried to reach the State Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy at the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Montgomery for more details, but our calls were not returned.
According to Tuscaloosa Metro Homicide reports, witnesses say Bailey passed out in his truck around 8:30pm while with his date. Hours later a friend found Bailey still in the passenger seat of his truck with vomit on his shirt. He was brought inside the home, where friends say they tried to rouse Bailey by putting him in the shower and making him throw up, but he was unresponsive.
Another friend arrived and says he stayed up to watch Bailey's vital signs and thought his condition was improving. All told police they thought Bailey was "sleeping it off" and he was put in a recliner so he could not choke if he vomited again. Then around 2am Bailey's pulse stopped suddenly according to a witness statement.
One friend tells police in questioning that he did not want to get Bailey in trouble. Prosecutor Alan Miller with the Shelby County District Attorney's office says fear a victim or 911 caller will be charged or get into trouble should not be a deterrent. "It's very difficult for me to imagine any scenario where we prosecute someone doing everything they can to help someone in a crisis," explains Miller. While there is not a legal requirement to call 911, Miller says it is the moral thing to do. ER doctors tell ABC 33/40 News medical information is not shared with police.
Most states now have some form of Good Samaritan or 911 Overdose Immunity laws when small amounts of drugs or alcohol are involved. An Alabama task force is looking at whether to expand our state laws. The Bailey family would like to see a law named after Adam, one that requires people to call for help.
ABC 33/40 spoke with an emergency room doctor at Grandview Hospital for some general guidelines on when it's not safe to let someone "sleep it off."
Dangerous situations include: if you can't rouse the person especially with pain, like sticking them with a needle or pinching them; they're unresponsive; they have slow respiration along with vomiting.
It's important parents talk with their high school and college age children about how to handle situations where someone is passed out or highly intoxicated. An adult should be called to help.