Two Florida paramedics were arrested for taking selfies and videos next to patients who were either unconscious, sedated, intoxicated or otherwise incapacitated while in ambulances. Just when you thought the selfie craze couldn’t get any worse, a story as twisted and tragic as this one comes out.
Authorities said the two paramedics were engaged in a “selfie war” and encouraged each other to take photos to outdo the other “for their own amusement.”
— Richard Reynolds (@juniorsassyrule) July 24, 2016
Investigators found that Kaylee Renee Dubois, 24, and Christopher Wimmer, 33, took selfies with 41 patients and had 101 photos and 64 videos during their so-called competition. Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley said the victims involved ranged in age from 24 to 86 and included five homeless people and one sheriff’s deputy. Three of the victims gave consent to be photographed, and two of the victims have since died. Nineteen victims were female and 17 were male.
Ashley called it a “sick juvenile game,” Uproxx reports.
“The patients were incubated, sedated, and other wise unconscious. Some were over the line and made to humiliate the patients. It was a sick juvenile game, I don’t know any other way to describe it. It was a game of who can be the most vile, who can I get a picture with, it’s humiliating.”
“Because of the insensitivity shown by these individuals, we intend to prosecute them vigorously and intend to seek jail time,” said Bill Bishop with the State Attorney’s Office.
Police do not believe the photos made it to the Internet, but they were shared with other EMS and non-EMS personnel. When coworkers let officials know that Christopher Wimmer was sharing “unprofessional and compromising selfies” of patients, authorities began investigating Wimmer and Kaylee Renee Dubois in May.
“Some of the data was shared by phone with other EMS and non-EMS personnel, however, the investigator says overall a very small number of EMS personnel were sent the images and videos by the defendants,” deputies said.
Dubois was arrested on Thursday and charged with two counts of interception and disclosure of oral communications, which is a third degree felony. Wimmer was charged with seven counts of interception and disclosure and one count of misdemeanor battery for allegedly holding up the eyelid of a sedated patient.
One of the most horrifying aspects of this investigation is that a selfie was found where Wimmer allegedly posed next to an elderly woman whose breast was showing.
“Investigators say he also posed with an elderly woman with her breast exposed,” deputies said.
All of the photos were on Wimmer’s phone, and the paramedic was “often laughing and smiling” in the selfies, according to the arrest report for the paramedics.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office also said the former paramedics challenged each other through text messages to take more selfies and “step up” their game, apparently meaning to try taking as many selfies as possible.
— Ilze Harlinton (@AboutHealthLife) July 24, 2016
“We have banned the use of personal cell phones while in the back of an ambulance,” County Administrator John Hofstad said during a press conference.
Dubois was fired from her position as a paramedic on May 20. On the same day, Wimmer resigned from his position as a paramedic. He turned himself in to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, July 21. The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office confirmed on Facebook at 3 p.m. that the former paramedic was in custody.
Once victims found out these paramedics had taken selfies next to them, they were understandably angry, Sheriff Ashley said.
What are your thoughts on the arrest of the two paramedics who engaged in a “selfie war” with unsuspecting patients being transported in ambulances? What punishment should they face?
[Image via Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook]