COOS BAY, Ore.--Shoppers at a Walmart Superstore in Coos Bay said store employees pushed them aside and failed to give proper medical care when another shopper appeared to be choking to death last week.
Witnesses tell KVAL News when they encountered an elderly man sprawled across the meat aisle, they tried to spring to action but employees prevented them from trying to save the man's life.
Stacy Dunn is a former Lakeside firefighter who said he was shopping for groceries when he and his roommate turned onto the meat aisle and saw a man choking on his own vomit, another good Samaritan crouched right beside him.
"He was shaking profusely, the woman had him turned on his side... which was the proper thing to do to keep him from choking, he was starting to turn purple."
But witnesses who spoke to KVAL News said after another good Samaritan turned the man on his side to prevent him from choking, additional first aid was thwarted by store clerks.
"They're telling us to back away, leave. You cannot be here," said Dunn. "We're trying to tell them we can assist. We can help."
While witnesses like Dunn say they weren't allowed to help the man, other witnesses said Walmart employees allowed two individuals to render aid to the man, but that employees did not deliver the proper medical equipment to properly assist the man.
Shayla Shea was on the scene. Shea said shopper requests for an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) were never granted.
"One woman was there screaming every couple of minutes for someone to get the AED," said Shea. "They said they would go get it and never came back."
Shea said because no medics were on scene, her son tried to help before Walmart officials physically pushed him aside.
Shea told KVAL News her 16-year-old son is first aid certified and was only able to locate a faint pulse on the man before she watched an employee physically push her son away, one time pushing him on his forehead.
"I was very appalled. I was very shocked and I was very ashamed to consider myself even an American citizen," said witness Stacy Dunn. "To see that another individual of my nature or anybody's nature would prevent anybody from helping somebody who is in dire need of help."
Dunn said he's resuscitated victims in the past thanks to his medical and CPR training. Dunn believed the man was having a heart attack and needed an AED.
Dunn and his roommate Joshua Cox, who is also CPR certified, said once employees pushed people aside, they went to customer service.Dunn says he asked store employees, "Why can't we help?" He says clerks told them based on the severity of the incident, the store wanted to avoid liability.
According to Oregon law, had witnesses rendered assistance, Walmart could have never faced charges.
Oregon's Good Samaritan Law protects medically trained people from legal action as long as they act in good faith, and as long as they are within the scope of their training and are not negligent.
The identity and condition of the man in distress is not yet known.
A Walmart spokesperson released the following statement regarding the incident:
"When an incident like this occurs, our number one priority is the safety and security of our customers. Our goal is to work with paramedics to help our customers receive the care they need.
This is a developing story. If you were there or know the man in distress, please call (541) 685-KVAL or email firstname.lastname@example.org