Michael Jackson speaks on Mpozi's death

Dateline: Thu 10 Aug 2006

Note to readers: This is a powerful email sent Monday from Michael Jackson, opened by me Wednesday. He is a copy editor at the Star who was present when Mpozi experienced problems breathing July 3. Michael is one of two editors who performed CPR. He describes what happened that night, along with blasting me, this blog and my efforts. My brief comments tk in a follo.

Ruth,

In your search for truth and justice I hope you have the courage to post

this e-mail unedited on the front page of your blog. I did not want to leave

this in the comments section of one of your posts because I feel it is too

important to be overlooked.

I have experienced a wide range of emotions during the past 5 weeks since

Mpozi's death. Guilt. Anger. Sorrow. Peace. And right now I'm just pissed.

As I am sure you know, I was one of the people who helped administer CPR to

Mpozi on July 3. What I find interesting, however, is that you have not once

bothered to contact me to discuss what happened that evening. I also know

that you have never contacted the woman who was there with me giving him

mouth-to-mouth. You never talked to the person who talked with the 911

operator, or the person who helped me get Mpozi to the floor, or the person

who was on the floor monitoring Mpozi's pulse. In all there were no fewer

than 5 people on the floor with Mpozi, yet you have never contacted any of

us. I have never served as a newsdesk copy editor, so I can only hope that

your reporting during your Star tenure was more thorough.

When I read your first account of this past Saturday's blog you quoted

someone as saying it was "several minutes" before anyone responded to Mpozi.

That is the most outrageous lie I have heard in a long time from anyone

older than my 3-year-old. No fewer than three people were at Mpozi's side

within 20 seconds that night. Sunday you backtrack and say a woman was

"instantly" at his side when, in fact, Dennis Ryerson was the first person

to reach Mpozi. I'm sure that 20 seconds seems like a long time, and I know

from reflecting on that situation that perhaps it was. But as one co-worker

told me, "When I looked up and saw the sound I heard was coming from Mpozi,

I sat back down." I think that's how a lot of us felt that night knowing

Mpozi's personality. My first reaction was that he was goofing off for the

benefit of the two interns he was talking to. After attempting to get Mpozi

to respond to us, we had him on the floor within a minute.

Immediately there was confusion. None of us had ever experienced anything

like this. I checked for Mpozi's pulse while another co-worker tried to

determine if he was breathing. Was it asthma, an allergic reaction, or

something far worse? None of us knew. The woman you mentioned on Saturday

attempted to contact security. When her call was disconnected another person

ran downstairs to the security office. A third employee came over to monitor

Mpozi's pulse on his left wrist while I kept his head back in hopes of

keeping his airway open. During that time I repeatedly asked this person,

"Do you have a pulse." Repeatedly the answer was "Yes."

Mpozi was on his side at the direction of the person who was talking to the

911 operator. I looked at Mpozi's eyes and saw they were dilated. The person

monitoring his pulse asked if anyone knew CPR. Only one person responded.

Even though I have been trained in CPR, fear kept me silent. I asked again

if there was a pulse. There wasn't. We rolled Mpozi onto his back and the

woman who responded to the CPR question came over. Together we began the

process. She gave mouth-to-mouth while I handled the chest compressions. We

continued this until the paramedics arrived.

When the paramedics took over I stepped back and feared the worst. When they

shocked him for a third time and wheeled him from the newsroom I went to the

stairwell and cried for the first of many times that night. A woman

returning from a short break saw me there being comforted by another

co-worker and wondered what was going on. She had missed the entire scene. I

have since learned that this woman saw Mpozi talking to the interns when she

departed for this break. When she returned he was already gone. Her time

away? 20 minutes.

I mention at the beginning of this e-mail that I'm pissed off. That anger is

directed at you, Ruth. I sit here at 5 a.m. unable to sleep because I'm so

angry. I find it disgusting that you would take Mpozi's death and use it to

attack The Star. A man is dead and all you can do is wag your finger at big,

bad, greedy Gannett while showing a blatant disregard for the feelings of

the people who were there that night. The same people you worked beside for

the past 28 years. Why don't you go ahead an point the finger directly at

me, Ruth. Obviously I wasn't good enough to save Mpozi's life that night.

Certainly my own inadequacy was a greater contributor to Mpozi's death than

an initial response to locked doors on Pennsylvania Street or a blocked

freight elevator.

I see where you have also added this comment to the 911 transcript post:

"This is not about blame of those in the newsroom that night. The transcript

makes it clear they are doing all they can to save Mpozi." Nice try, but too

late.

I do not know why Mpozi died July 3. But what I do know is that it wasn't

because of "callousness and indifference" of his employer. The people who

were there that night fought as hard as they could, as best they could, to

save Mpozi's life. I hope you pray to whatever God you believe in that you

never have to experience what we did that night. And if you do I certainly

hope no one comes behind you and makes a mockery out of your efforts.

Finally, I want to address a comment from your July 25 entry. It reads: "As

one friend noted, Mpozi would have had a better chance had he collapsed at a

Starbuck's or any public place." For "your friend" I have two words, and

I'll spare you the profanity and let you figure them out for yourself. I do

not recall seeing you on the floor that night fighting for Mpozi's life.

It's quite easy for you to keep your anonymity while throwing your comments

out on Ruth's blog, but I dare you to come say that to my face.

Continue your crusade, Ruth, and congratulations on recovering your soul

when you dropped off your employee ID at security on June 30. Hopefully

sometime soon you'll also discover where you left your heart.

Michael

Comment from Ruth: Again -- the first call came in to 911 at 6:18 p.m. The EMTs were there (inside) at 6:22 p.m. The system was f----up. Michael and others behaved heroically. But did the company provide their CPR training? Where were the AEDs? Michael is wracked with guilt. Where is the guilt from Gannett leadership?

I received a copy of the employee handbook this week, the section on safety. This is the one in effect when Mpozi died, the one still in use, the one handed to me when I was there.

"Your safety is of the utmost concern to The Star," it says. "The Star is among the safetst buildings in Marion County, with monitoring and alarm systems."

The handbook explains that in a medical emergency, "Dial 2222, in-house security."

I worked there since 1978, and I never heard of 2222. Obviously, based on what Michael and others have said, nobody did that night, either.

And when they did get thru to security, it was another problem, already reported on.

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