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Two Illinois EMS workers charged with murder in death of patient strapped facedown on stretcher

Earl L. Moore Jr. died Dec. 18 in Springfield shortly after EMS workers strapped him onto a stretcher facedown. A resident in his home told police he was suffering hallucinations from alcohol withdrawal.

Two Illinois EMS workers have been charged with murder in connection with the death of a 35-year-old man in their care, whom they are alleged to have strapped facedown on a stretcher.

Peter Cadigan, 50, and Peggy Finley, 44, emergency medical workers for LifeStar, were charged with first-degree murder in the death of Earl L. Moore Jr. on Dec. 18, Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright announced Tuesday.

Moore died after he was put in an ambulance in a prone position, meaning facedown, and straps were placed on his back and lower body to keep him on the stretcher, Wright said.

Paramedics load Earl Moore into an ambulance on Dec. 18, 2022, in Springfield, Ill.
An image from a police body camera shows EMS workers loading Earl L. Moore Jr. into an ambulance in Springfield, Ill., on Dec. 18.Sangamon County Government

Police had responded to a home on North 11th street in Springfield, the state capital, around 2 a.m. after they got a call about people inside with firearms. When officers arrived, a resident said the person who made the 911 call was suffering from “hallucinations due to alcohol withdrawal,” police said in a news release

Officers found the person, Moore, and “quickly realized that the patient was in need of medical assistance,” police said. 

An ambulance arrived at 2:18 a.m. 

A female paramedic instructed Moore to walk to the ambulance, but body camera video, also released Tuesday, showed he “was not able to walk and the medical personnel were not offering any assistance,” police said. 

The three police officers helped Moore through the home onto a stretcher outside. 

Officer body camera video showed the EMS workers placing Moore onto a stretcher in a prone position, police said.

Moore died at the hospital at 3:14 a.m., Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon said at the news conference Tuesday.

An autopsy determined that Moore's cause of death was compressional and positional asphyxia "due to prone face-down restraint on a paramedic transportation cot/stretcher by tightened straps across the back,” Allmon said.

His death was classified as a homicide.

When police were notified that Moore had died, Chief Ken Scarlette requested an independent investigation by the Illinois State Police. 

Wright said that based on the findings of the ongoing ISP investigation and the autopsy report, he filed first-degree murder charges against Cadigan and Finley.

They were being detained in the Sangamon County jail on bail of $1 million each.

Wright read out the charges to reporters, saying the defendants "did act without lawful justification" in transporting Moore in the prone position and by placing "tightened restraints" on his back and lower body.

He said they should have known, "based upon their training, experience and the surrounding circumstances, that such acts would create a substantial probability of great bodily harm or death.”

Wright said they face 20 to 60 years in prison if they are convicted. It was not immediately clear whether they have lawyers.

An attorney for the pair did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Their next court date is set for Jan. 19.

LifeStar Ambulance Service did not respond to a request for comment.