By society’s standards, Christopher John Salazar wasn’t very
significant. He wasn’t famous; he wasn’t a political figure; he
wasn’t a scholar. In fact, he never graduated from college.
To his family and friends, he was very significant and an amazing
human being, son and a devoted father.
So how did he die after 18 days of steady progress in an
intensive care unit, in the care of trained professionals?
This is a true story as told by the father of Christopher, about
how a hospital got away with “a free kill” through a little known
law in the state of Florida.
On Sunday, March 22, 2009 at 3:00 pm, I drove Chris to his workplace and
reached over and gave him a hug before he left the vehicle; he thanked me for the
“I’ll see ya later, Dad.”
I never dreamed those would be the last words I ever heard him say.
I had to get back to the house as we were in the custom of going to the afternoon
mass at St. Andrew and the family hadn’t wanted to be late. As I pulled away, I saw
my son, so alive and so vibrant, walk into the building.
At 11:00 pm, after we were already home, I wanted to make sure Chris wasn’t
going to be stranded at work. I sent him a text, “Have you got a ride home?”
He texted back, “Yes, am good, love ya.”
With my mind at ease, I got ready for bed.
Monday, March 23rd, I slowly came awake because I had heard a noise in the
middle of the night. Was that the phone ringing? After I roused enough to look at
the clock and know I wasn’t dreaming, I wondered who could be calling at 03:30.
“Is this Mr. Salazar?”
“You have a son, Christopher?”
“This is (name of hospital removed). Your son has been in an accident.”
“Is he hurt?”
“It would be in your best interest to get down here.”
I felt myself getting sick. “How bad is it?”
“It would be in your best interest to get down here as soon as possible.”
“Oh my God no. Dear God, please.”
I roused Carol and told her the awful news I had just received. While I was getting
ready, I asked her to wait for me to call her before she came to the hospital, in
case I needed her to bring anyone else. As I went to leave the house, my mother
was standing there in the hallway; she already had tears in her eyes.
“I heard the phone ring.”
It was as if by some instinct she knew.
The drive from my house to the hospital was only 7.7 miles. Now, several years
later, I remembered nothing of the drive there. I do remember telling the
receptionist in the E.R my name. She led me into a small room off of the waiting
area and asked me to wait. A nurse came in and told me the doctors will be in to
talk to me.
Being in the medical field, I knew this drill. The nausea and weakness I felt during
the call came back over me. I sat down to wait for what I knew was coming. The E.
R. physician and the neurosurgeon came in.
“Your son has sustained a very severe head injury. His condition is critical.”
They told me they were going to place an ICP, a hollow screw or “bolt” inserted
through a hole drilled in the skull and the outermost membrane protecting the
brain and spinal cord, to measure his intracranial pressure and, depending on the
readings, decide how to proceed. The normal pressure with this device was from 1
to 15 mm Hg, millimeters of mercury.
That was about all I remembered from this discussion.
I asked to see him. What I saw when I was escorted to his bedside has haunted my
sleep since. This was my son, my youngest. I whispered a prayer “Thank God you
are alive”. There was hope.
Suddenly Carol was there. She hadn’t waited for my call. After we were by Chris
together, we were led to a waiting room by the Intensive Care Unit, the ICU, to wait
until the bolt was placed.
“Have you called Kathy?” Carol asked me.
“I can’t, I’ll wait till we get the ICP results.”
We dropped to our knees in the waiting room and we prayed. After some time
passed, Carol said, “You have to call Kathy.”
|A Free Kill
"An easy, must read for anyone who needs to be
reminded of the need to question your healthcare
and understand the complexity of our legal
system in order to protect yourself and your loved
ones." -mg, Amazon review
"Heart wrenching account of the loss of a child
and the failure of the Florida Legislature to fairly
compensate it's residents from the negligence of
State supported medical professionals, facilities
or operations." -Mike H,
"I couldn't put it down. Actually brought tears to
my eyes several times. I found myself feeling like I
was in the author's shoes throughout the entire
"An excellent book by a knowledgeable medical
professional writing as objectively as possible
about his son." -Sandy Clenney
"A real life tragedy and expose on the medical
and legal systems you will want to know about."
"Every body should read this book. Very
important message." -Diego
"Highly recommend this book as a must read for
everyone. The health care and legal systems are
failing our most vulnerable, and we are purposely
left in the dark, without the knowledge to navigate
or advocate effectively in times of tragedy. Read
this book now, before you find yourself or a loved
one in need of this crucial information. Reading
this book may save your life or the life of a loved
"A lot of information we all need to know. Written
with much love. Read with much love and caring."
"I liked that this book was written from a 'human'
point of view, it makes it easier to relate to.
Although very sad, it does make me realize the
kind of society (greedy) and world (pathetic) we
live in. I hope I never have to face anything like
this family did, I hope I never have to stay in a
hospital again either!" -Peggy
"Hoping your ordeal makes us more vigilant about
what we normally take for granted." -J. Ochs
"Very interesting and sad. Feel sorry for the
family. very easy to read. once I started the book
I could not put it down." -Sandy
"A great book and very important topic." -Peggy
"So very touching! There's a lot that happens that
we're not aware of in hospitals! My heart goes out
to the Salazar Family! <3" -Darlene S. Morris
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