The Chicago Fire Department is investigating why paramedics mistakenly thought a teenager who was shot in the head was dead and left his body lying in the street covered in a sheet until bystanders saw his arms and legs twitching.
Paramedics left Erin Carey, 17, unattended next to a gutter as they treated other victims in the shooting early Monday in the University Village area of Chicago. Once the paramedics were told the teenager was still breathing, they began cardiopulmonary resuscitation and rushed him to a local hospital, officials said.
He died at 1:19 a.m. Tuesday, about 20 hours after he was shot twice in the head, officials said.
"I do understand that paramedics looked at him, believed him to be deceased, covered him with that sheet and moved on to another individual who was nearby who was also shot. They saw motion, movement underneath the sheet. Officers who were present notified paramedics, this man is still alive," Chicago Police First Deputy Anthony Riccio said at a press conference.
Officials did not release the names of the paramedics or say how many were at the scene.
It was not immediately clear how long Carey was lying in the street before paramedics realized he was still alive. The Chicago Tribune reported he was in the street under a sheet for an hour before bystanders saw his arms and legs, which were exposed, twitching.
Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago said his department is investigating how it came to be that paramedics initially thought Carey was dead.
"We're trying to piece everything together," Santiago told ABC station WLS-TV. "We're looking at the computers where they put down all that information. Paramedics put down that information."
Carey's family has retained an attorney and have put the police and fire departments on notice to preserve documents and evidence, ABC station WLS reported.
"I really think the Chicago Fire Department really dropped the ball with my son," the teen's father Eric Carey told reporters Wednesday. "That could not be proper procedure ... First of all, did you check and see if he even had a pulse?"
The teen was at a party in the University Village neighborhood when two cars began to circle him and other revelers and numerous shots rang out about 4:50 a.m. Monday, according to officials.
Carey was one of six people shot. One other victim, a 22-year-old woman, was also killed in the shooting and four men were injured, police said.
Carey recently graduated from Evanston Township High in Evanston, Illinois, where he played on the football team. He also played for the Chicago Jokers in a youth football league, said Eric McClendon, who coaches the team.
"I'm heartbroken because this is a player that I personally knew. A player that I had to pick up and bring to practice," McClendon told WLS-TV.