The family of a 23-year-old man who escaped from an ambulance and later jumped from a nearby bridge to his death is suing the hospital and ambulance company for failing to prevent the tragedy.
Paramedics with American Medical Response (AMR) along with a mental health nurse from Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa were transporting Abdullah Ibrahim on July 18, 2019, from a court hearing downtown back to the hospital. Ibrahim was admitted to Sharp Grossmont on a mental health hold three weeks prior after his family became concerned that Ibrahim was suicidal and severely depressed.
It was on that ride back to Sharp Grossmont that Ibrahim slipped out of his restraints while inside the ambulance and jumped from the moving vehicle as it approached the hospital. After escaping the ambulance, Ibrahim ran to the nearby trolley station and climbed a bridge overlooking the platform. As law enforcement approached Ibrahim, he jumped, killing himself on impact.
“He was a good boy,” said Ibrahim’s mother Halimas Abdirahaman. “He went to school and seemed OK, but suddenly it happened, the sickness happened.”
Abdirahaman and her family want answers as to how her son managed to get out of the ambulance as a nurse and paramedic were inside.
“This is careless,” said Abdirahaman during an interview with NBC 7 before breaking down in tears.
Ibrahim’s older brother Ismail said he and his family are struggling to put the pieces back together.
“He’s gone and he's never coming back,” said Ismail. “This could've been any person in San Diego. It could've been your brother, your father, it could've been your sister. We want the hospital to at least claim some responsibility, do something to show that they can’t let this happen again.”
On Feb. 4, the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Sharp Grossmont and AMR.
“I lost a brother, my mom lost a son,” Ismail said. “It could've been avoided but there is no going back.”
Attorney Norman Finkelstein, who represents the family, said that the hospital and ambulance company is responsible for ensuring the safety of those under their care which in this instance they did not do.
“They should have had more restraints, they should have been able to prevent him from getting out of that ambulance. He was dependent on them to protect them and they failed, they failed miserably," Finkelstein said.
NBC 7 reached out to both companies for comment. A spokesperson for AMR said the company was unable to comment due to pending litigation.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for Sharp HealthCare responded with the following statement: "Our sympathies continue to be with the family over this tragic incident. Due to the pending litigation and patient privacy concerns, our comments on this matter must be limited. However, we can say that the patient was being transferred to court for a hearing on an involuntary hold that was placed on him."