January 29, 2019
Photo by FS Productions/Getty
Shirell Powell thought she was taking her brother off life support, but in fact, she told doctors to pull the plug on a complete stranger. In a new lawsuit, the Brooklyn resident is suing St. Barnabas Hospital for the mix-up.
In this case of mistaken identity, a man named Freddy Clarence Williams was admitted to the Bronx treatment facility on July 15 after a drug overdose, which left his brain irreversibly damaged. According to Newsweek, the records of the medical center revealed it previously treated Frederick Williams and called his sister, who happens to be Powell. Unaware to the hospital, they called the wrong family to report the status of this man.
Although it wasn’t her brother, Shirell didn’t realize that upon reaching the hospital: “He had tubes in his mouth, a neck brace. He was a little swollen…[But] he resembled my brother so much,” she said, according to the New York Post. “That is my baby brother, so it was really hurtful. I was worried, hurt, crying, screaming, calling everybody. It was a horrible feeling.”
After calling her family down to say their last goodbyes on July 29, Frederick’s sister “authorized [the hospital] to withdraw life support from Frederick Williams,” according to the lawsuit. But when the autopsy came back, the Medical Examiner’s Office revealed this was not their beloved brother. “I nearly fainted because I killed somebody that I didn’t even know. I gave consent,” said Powell.
As for her real brother, he had been arrested for assault on July 1 and was being held in a Lower Manhattan prison. After seeing him and speaking with him at Rikers Island, the 48-year-old tried to find a way to contact the actual victim’s family, stated by the New York Post. “The representatives [at St. Barnabas] basically spit in my face,” said Alexander M. Dudelson, Powell’s lawyer on attempting to get information on Freddy Clarence.
While there is no word from the hospital about the lawsuit, yet, Shirell is still seeking justice for the man she accidentally killed: “On the one hand, I’m thankful that it wasn’t [my brother]. On the other hand, I killed somebody that was a dad or a brother,” she said, according to Newser.
TELL US: Do you think she will be able to get justice for his family?