Saturday, August 23, 2008

I Don't Want go to Rehab, no, no, no

Last year a woman from New York City was sent to rehab in Arizona. She died before getting there. The woman was a suicidal, drug-abusing alcoholic in such bad shape that she needed a month or two in a rehab facility that controls daily life as tightly as a prison.

This unstable woman was taken to the airport by her husband and sent on her way. She realized there was no alcohol or any of her other favorite recreation drugs at the Arizona rehab facility so she began buying drinks while flying across the country. She was headed to Tucson, which meant she had to switch to a second airplane after a layover in Phoenix. But she drank enough alcohol by the time she expected to board her connecting flight that she was impaired. Abusively impaired.

At the gate to her connecting flight to Tucson, she erupted and showered verbal abuse on an airline employee. Airport security was called and when the officers arrived she struggled with them and refused to cooperate. They hauled her to a security area, a job made more difficult by her efforts to sit down and dig her heels into the surface of the floor while the officers moved her forward.

She was yelling, shrieking and struggling while they hauled her along and the officers decided her actions threatened the safety of others as well as her own safety. They shackled her to a bench in a hilding area. Somehow she managed to entangle herself in the chain used to shackle her to the bench. She got the chain around her neck and ultimately strangled herself.

A Tragedy.

Here's the question. What was her husband thinking? He arranged for his seriously deranged wife to fly from New York to Tucson to get the treatment she obviously needed. Yet he put his obviously deranged wife -- who knew better than he? -- on a crosscountry flight ALONE.

This is stunning. She was person who had become so erratic that she was considered a danger to her children, yet he sent her off on a long flight to a rehab facility ALONE. Not a word to the airline that a difficult passenger was flying across the country. Not a word. But ALL airlines offer extra assistance to people who need it.

Why did he ignore the obvious potential for trouble? Why did he let her fly ALONE without alerting the airline to assist her?

Here's another question. Why did he send her from New York to a rehab facility in Arizona? There are plenty of top-notch rehab facilities in and around New York City. He could have DRIVEN her to the door of one of them and registered her himself, then returned home, completing the trip in a matter of hours.

Instead, he airmailed her to Arizona ALONE, sending her on a trip where airline employees are bartenders who market alcohol like beer vendors at baseball games.

If there is a culprit in this story, it is the husband. Through carelessness, thoughtlessness or desperation, he sent her off and she died.


Phoenix Officers Are Cleared in Death

Published: August 21, 2008

PHOENIX (AP) — Prosecutors reviewing the death of a New York City woman who died in police custody at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport last year said on Thursday that they had cleared the officers involved of any criminal wrongdoing.

The woman, Carol Anne Gotbaum, the stepdaughter-in-law of Betsy Gotbaum, New York City’s public advocate, accidentally asphyxiated herself after being chained to a bench in a police holding room after her Sept. 28 arrest, according to the authorities.

The police said Ms. Gotbaum, 45, was intoxicated and unruly after missing her connecting flight while on the way to a substance-abuse rehabilitation clinic.

The Maricopa County attorney, Andrew Thomas, said officers did not know that Ms. Gotbaum suffered from alcoholism and depression.

“Mrs. Gotbaum’s death, while tragic, does not warrant criminal charges against police officers who were simply trying to carry out their duties,” Mr. Thomas said. “They committed no crime.”

The announcement did not surprise the Gotbaum family’s lawyer, Michael Manning.

“We never believed that the officers intentionally killed her,” Mr. Manning said. “From what we know at this stage, they may have been grossly negligent in how they treated her. But they certainly were not acting criminally.”

5 Comments:

Blogger Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

so u an amy winehouse fan - lol

2:41 PM  
Blogger no_slappz said...

Torrance,

Yes, I'm an Amy fan.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous anita said...

my sense from reading your highly insensitive comments about the case is that you are quite unfamiliar on personal level with the very intractable complexities of treating drug and alcohol abusers. the fact is that this woman, as an adult, could likely have refused to be accompanied to the facility and, therefore, her family had no other choice but to allow her to travel alone; at least she heading toward treatment. a small, but important, step in the life of an alcoholic or drug addict. also, you say she was a "deranged" woman. well, she clearly had very serious problems. but it was only ON DRUGS OR ALCOHOL that she became deranged. what her family probably was unaware of (because addicts are a very wily bunch) was that many people heading to rehab try to pull their last bender on the way. you cannot fault "the husband" for not knowing that. it's likely that she appeared fully on board to recovery and changing her life.

also, i agree that there are probably some "top-notch" rehabilitation facilities in the new york area. however since she was headed to tuscon, i am speculating they were sending her to 'sierra tuscon' which is a facility that is qualified to treat not only the addictions, but the psychiatric problems underlying those addictions (depression, bi-polar disorder, what have you). there are no such facilities in the new york region. and in terms of rehab for addiction (drug or alcohol) alone, the premier facilities are betty ford and hazelden. again, no such facilities in new york. smithers, might be one, but it really doesn't come close.

this is a tragedy any way you look at it. you don't have enough information to place blame on any individual in the case and you are certainly not qualified to judge them based on how they dealt with this most ugly of diseases.

5:12 PM  
Blogger no_slappz said...

anita,

Trips to rehab are commonplace today. Moreover, Carol Gotbaum's behavior was well known to her husband, as he himself said.

After putting her on the plane he begin to think a little more clearly and eventually called the Phoenix airport. In other words, he realized she was a danger to herself while traveling alone, just as she had been a danger to her children when her erratic behavior caused her husband to schedule her trip to rehab.

I followed the story from start to finish. The criticism focused only on the security personnel who had no idea -- and no reason to know -- that she was just another psycho, drug-and-alcohol abusing suicidal passenger.

When parents put children on commercial airplane flights, they are allowed to escort their kids to the gate even though they do not have tickets and the airline escorts the kids off the plane to the receiving parties.

The same courtesy is available to adults who need assistance. Gotbaum's husband was fully aware of her needs, as he himself stated. No one was fooled by her "Last Hurrah" drinkathon from New York to Arizona.

Meanwhile, your comment that there was no expectation her husband should have forseen her in-flight breakdown is silly. AS you said, this behavior is common -- so common that everyone except Carol Gotbaum's husband expects it.

Those who lack real-life experience with this pre-rehab behavior have undoubtedly heard about, or seen it depicted in movies and elsewhere.

More importantly, it would be irresponsible of the Tucson rehab facility to forget to mention this little item to Mr Gotbaum before he shipped her out.

As for rehab facilities in NY and the surrounding area, I can tell you that Silver Hill in New Canaan, CT would have met ALL of Carol Gotbaum's needs. Additionally, it is just silly to think that in the wealthy NY City region there are NO facilities offering the care she needed.

The name of the Tucson facility was published in the news coverage of the case. I can't recall it now, but I did check it at the time and found that a month at the Tucson place was $30,000.

Insurance probably covered a big chunk of it. Meanwhile, Mr Gotbaum said he chose to let his wife travel alone because he did not want to leave his kids to accompany her, which is an admission that he knew she needed adult supervision. He could have hired someone to take her.

All that aside, it's clear the airline would have taken the necessary steps to ensure her safe arrival if her husband had made one phone call on his wife's behalf. He didn't. Hence, he bungled it.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there rehab for diarhea of the mouth slappz, for that is what you suffer from!

7:57 PM  

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