LaQuisha Miller’s 7-year–old son “was a sweet baby, he was smart.”
“His handwriting was so good for a 7-year-old. He loved to sing. He’d always say, ‘Mommy, God loves you,’” Miller said between sobs.
“He’d go out in the backyard and pick me flowers and say, ‘Mommy, here’s a flower for you.’”
Her son, Kavontea Devon Shuler, died following a vehicle accident on Dec. 8, 2018.
Shuler’s estate sued Orangeburg County and the Regional Medical Center over the medical care he received following the crash.
Both have now reached a mediated settlement with Shuler’s estate.
According to settlement order, Orangeburg County and RMC do not admit liability and deny liability of any nature, but Orangeburg County offered to pay $50,000 and RMC offered to pay $1,140,000.
The accident followed a wedding. Shuler served as a ring bearer.
Miller had gone ahead to the reception and left her son in the care of a cousin.
“When you’ve entrusted your child to a friend or family member, you expect that friend to be responsible for getting that child back safely to you. To her dismay, she discovered through that friend that Kevontea was actually in an accident,” said Carl B. Grant, an attorney for the estate.
Grant said the child was entrusted to Keith Alexandra Ragin without his mother’s knowledge.
“He was entrusted to Mr. Ragin because Mr. Ragin had a son who was a childhood friend of Kavontea’s, so the lady allowed Kevontea to ride back home with Mr. Ragin and the other little boy,” Grant said.
Ragin strapped his son and Shuler in the front seat of the vehicle before he drove to Orangeburg on a wet highway.
Ragin lost control of his vehicle, which overturned into a ditch near Frolic Meadows Lane.
Of the three occupants in the vehicle, Shuler was the only one who was ejected, Grant said.
According to the lawsuit, Orangeburg County EMS was contacted at 9:50 p.m. and they arrived at 10:07 p.m.
When they arrived, Shuler was in the back of an SUV with an Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office deputy rendering aid.
“When Orangeburg County EMS showed up they did notice that Kavontea had an injury to his shoulder,” Grant said.
Twenty minutes later, they left the scene with a severely injured Shuler and transported him to RMC – but without using lights, sirens – “they just transported him to the hospital,” Grant said.
“No decision was made that he needed to be transported or medivacked to a level one trauma center, so when he got to the hospital, Ms. Miller was already there. She got to the hospital even before he arrived because she’d heard about what happened to her child,” Grant said.
EMS arrived with Shuler at RMC at 10:39 p.m. He wasn’t seen by an emergency room physician until 10:46 p.m. and then a trauma surgeon at 10:52 p.m., according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that an emergency room physician drafted initial paperwork for Shuler’s transfer to Palmetto Health Richland in Columbia at 11:54 p.m., but the transfer would be by ambulance.
At 1:44 a.m., medical staff attempted to transfer Shuler to Columbia, but three minutes later his heart rate slowed significantly and by 1:51 a.m. medical staff began CPR, the lawsuit states.
He was pronounced dead at 2:14 a.m. on Dec. 9.
Co-counsel Andrew “Andy” Kunz alleges that while Shuler was at RMC, “there was not one FAST exam.”
FAST is an acronym for “focused assessment with sonography in trauma.”
“That’s usually a bedside ultrasound. They didn’t do any ultrasound, they didn’t do any CTs, they didn’t do any sort of scans that would show internal bleeding or internal injuries,” Kunz said.
Kunz said once the autopsy was completed, it showed significant internal injuries: liver lacerations, lacerations to both of his kidneys, soft tissue hemorrhaging, approximately 225cc of blood in the right chest cavity, 25cc of blood in his left chest cavity, 200cc of blood in his abdominal area, contusions to his head and lungs.
Grant said Shuler also had a fractured humerus.
“But none of that was properly diagnosed,” Grant said.
The lawsuit said Shuler died as a direct result of blunt force trauma to the abdomen.
Grant said, “In medicine, there’s something called the Golden Hour. Within one hour of the trauma, when you need emergent care, you really have to be on top of your game and get things done in order to preserve someone’s life.”
He added there was a helicopter parked by the hospital the entire time Shuler was there.
Miller said she’ll soon start a foundation for her late son: the Kavontea Foundation.
The aim of the foundation is to let children know that “Kavontea says it’s cool to ride in the backseat and buckled in a seatbelt” and to make sure adults know the proper ways children need to be restrained in vehicles.
“I miss him so much,” Miller said.
Attorneys who represented Orangeburg County and the Regional Medical Center didn’t return phone calls for comments on Monday.
Ragin, of 147 Lowman Street, is serving a seven-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to reckless homicide and unlawful conduct toward a child on Oct. 21, 2019.
Through a lawsuit against Ragin, Grant said they were able to recover $50,000 for Shuler’s estate.
Contact the writer: email@example.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD.
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