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Florida county changes policy after widow forced to sit with husband's dead body in park for hours

Posted at 4:40 PM, Mar 27, 2018

MANATEE COUNTY, Florida — Manatee County leaders are changing an EMS policy after a heart attack victim’s body was left sitting in a public park for three hours, while his widow was forced to sit with his body.

Ty Ross was walking his dogs at the Palma Sola Marina when he dropped to the ground and from a heart attack. Deputies and EMS quickly responded, and pronounced him dead just before 8:45 a.m.

Per county policy, EMS left after life-saving attempts were no longer needed — leaving the body behind.

A Manatee County deputy kept the public away while they waited for the funeral home to arrive. The sheriff's office was not able to transport the body anywhere since it wasn't involved in a crime. 

When officials were able to get ahold of Julie Ross, who had her cell phone turned off, she rushed to the scene. When she arrived about 90 minutes later, she was forced to wait next to her dead husband's body for another hour and a half until the funeral home was able to come pick up her husband's body.

"If the ambulance is there, they shouldn't just go off and leave him!" You know? They should do something," Ross said. "I'm just thinking there must have been something else that could've been done besides just leaving him there. That seems so cold."

Family members expressed concerns over EMS leaving the deceased at the scene with only a sheet to cover him. Wondering why they did not transport his body to a funeral home or morgue.

"Sitting over there with an umbrella over him, worried about red ants, it seemed forever," Ross said. 

Manatee County Sheriff’s spokesperson Dave Bristow says the Sheriff along with the EMS Chief are changing the county’s policy after this incident. From now on, paramedics will put a body in the back of the ambulance until the funeral home arrives. Bristow says this new policy only applies when someone dies in a public place.

Ross knows she can never get her husband back, but she’s relieved another family won’t go through this.

"I’m just glad to see that the county moved once they heard about it."