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Paramedics using ketamine on patients | Scripps News Investigates

In this episode, Scripps News takes a closer look at ketamine used by paramedics to sedate patients, as well as a spike in child labor incidents.
Paramedics using ketamine on patients | Scripps News Investigates
Posted at 11:35 PM, Apr 05, 2024

Paramedics & ketamine

In late 2023, a jury found two Colorado paramedics who were charged in the death of Elijah McClain guilty of criminally negligent homicide. 

McClain was killed in 2019 after police restrained him and the paramedics injected him with the sedative ketamine.

A Scripps News Investigation has found that the case has prompted other families around the country to raise questions about the sedative, especially in deadly incidents where there were no findings of criminal wrongdoing. 

Jonathan “Stewart” Blahut died in 2022 after a paramedic sedated him with ketamine in Gautier, Mississippi.  

According to an autopsy, the state medical examiner said the “toxic effects of methamphetamine” caused Blahut’s death.  

But the 27-year-old’s family began to question that explanation after watching police videos showing the final hours of his life.  

“I think about him all day every day … what he had to go through, that was inhumane,” said his mother Jeanette Blahut. “Him sitting there hollering for mama as he was dying.”  

The Blahut family said they thought for months that Stewart died of a drug overdose after receiving his autopsy report, which did not mention he was restrained by police and sedated with ketamine before he died.  

Now the family is pushing for the case to be reopened and reconsidered, the same way McClain’s cause of death was amended in Colorado. 

Child labor incidents

A Scripps News investigation found children as young as 6 years old are helping to harvest one of America's favorite superfoods. 

The discovery comes years after the U.S. Department of Labor fined six North Carolina blueberry farms in 2009 for violating child labor laws, according to federal Wage and Hour Department enforcement records reviewed by Scripps News. 

Those records show no documented cases of underage work on blueberry farms in the state since 2017, even as the Labor Department reports a surge of illegal child labor across industries in recent years. 

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