“It was unprofessional and shoddy. It was a disgrace,” said Tom Johnes, Bohm’s stepfather. “It was blatant disregard for (John’s) dignity. There was no respect or concern shown for John or us.” “He showed up by himself wearing a T-shirt and jeans with no sheets to cover the body,” Tom said of the man, estimated to be in his early 20s, sent by Bostick to retrieve the body. Tom said the employee said Bostick couldn’t be there because of a family emergency.Metrowest Newspapers, Inc.
Bohm was a big man before going into the hospital, about 6 feet, 230 pounds. The fluids that were pumped into him at the hospital in attempts to save his life added another 30 pounds to his frame. Tom said Bostick’s employee needed help to move the body onto the gurney, which was smaller and less sturdy than those found in an ambulance. Nurses and family members helped Bostick’s employee with the task.
The employee then wheeled the body from intensive care unit through the front lobby and out the front doors of the hospital to a Suburban parked at the main entrance. When Tom realized Bostick’s employee was going to take the body through the front lobby, he rushed to get his wife, Barbara, and John’s wife, Sonja, down a hall so they wouldn’t have to see the body removal process.
Tom said the employee again needed help from a nurse to lift the gurney into the back of the vehicle. In the process, Tom said the portion of the gurney that was supposed to be inside the vehicle slipped out, causing the gurney to tip, almost spilling Bohm’s body onto the pavement.
“If we had not been standing there, he (John) would have hit the ground,” Tom said.
Tom was able to grab the end of the gurney, while his nephew and John’s brother were able to grab the sides. “Thank God his mom and wife were not there to see that,” he added.
Bohm’s mother said the family should have trusted their instincts that all was not right with way Bostick was handling the arrangements. First was the fact that one employee showed up to retrieve the body and didn’t think to call for help when realizing the size of the man was a big concern. The fact that he showed up in blue jeans and a T-shirt was another concern, she said.
“People don’t go through this every day,” Tom said. “What do you say? Your mind goes blank. You have to trust that people in that (funeral home) business know what they are doing.”
Daryl Meyers, spokesman for Platte Valley Medical Center, said Bostick’s employee was doing as directed by hospital staff. Although most funeral home employees enter and exit through the emergency room, the goal is to find the least visible path, Meyers said. In the Bohm case, Meyers said it was around 8:30 p.m., after visiting hours. The main entrance was closed. Most nights, that means the lobby is dark and unoccupied. But Bohm’s family said it wasn’t dark or empty. It was well lit and busy with people from the maternity ward.
“People don’t just stop having babies because visiting hours are over,” Tom said.
Meyers agreed with the family that Bostick’s employee was not dressed appropriately for the occasion and he should have called Bostick for help rather than relying on the nursing staff and family members.
“We have worked with Mr. Bostick and others, and this is the exception. It is not the rule,” Meyers said, explaining that Bostick’s professionalism and concern for families has not been challenged at the hospital before.
Because of Bohm’s family’s experience, though, Meyers said the hospital is reviewing its policies for body removal.
Tom and Barbara said they do not put the blame on the hospital, though. They praise the hospital and staff for the care and compassion shown during Bohm’s hospitalization.
But the next day, the family was in for an even greater shock when they tried to meet with Bostick to make the funeral arrangements. Tom said he and Bostick agreed the day Bohm died to meet at noon the following day at Bostick’s Fort Lupton office. Tom said when he called to get directions at 11 a.m. April 14, Bostick said he couldn’t meet at noon because he had a funeral. When Tom suggested a time later that day, Bostick claimed he had another funeral. Tom said he didn’t believe him.
“If he had two funerals, that’s not the type of thing you forget and make other arrangements,” Tom said of Bostick.
Bostick said he did have funerals that day.
Further, Tom said Bostick informed the family that the Easter weekend meant the body could not be cremated until five days later, the Tuesday after Easter Sunday, and the death certificate could take a week to get back.
Frustrated, Bohm’s family called the second funeral home on the list provided by the hospital, Tabor-Rice Funeral Home in Brighton. Tom and Barbara met with Pat Tabor shortly after the phone conversation with Bostick. Within a half hour of the family signing the papers requesting the transfer of Bohm’s body from Bostick to Tabor, Tabor’s employees had the body and were on their way back to Brighton.
Tom said he was told Tabor’s employees didn’t see Bostick or anyone in the Bostick Funeral Home. He said they found the body in an unrefrigerated room. Because the body was unrefrigerated and not on ice, the decomposition process had begun. The body, which was to be cremated, was no longer viewable. Concerned by what he called the mishandling of Bohm’s body to that point, Tom and Bohm’s father, Richard Bohm of Wheatland, Wyo., asked to see the body to make sure they had the right one.
From that point on, with Tabor’s employees handling the arrangements, the family felt comfortable that Bohm was in good hands and would receive the dignity and respect he deserved. He was cremated and the death certificate was given to the family the day Tabor retrieved the body from Bostick.
Bostick said he did not mishandle the arrangements as the family claimed. He said that, at the hospital, the gurney did not tip and the body was never in jeopardy of falling to the ground. Bostick said family members actually got in the way of removing the body and having it safely loaded for transport. The gurney had handles under it to raise and lower the body, and Bostick said the family was asked not to touch the gurney to avoid tripping those handles.
“The family stepped in and did the wrong thing,” Bostick said.
Tom, a retired firefighter with 22 years in the military working with the air ambulance unit at Buckley Air National Guard, said he knows how gurneys work and is incensed that Bostick is claiming the body didn’t almost fall to the ground, because he it did.
Bostick said when he talked to the family by phone prior to Bohm’s death, he was not informed of Bohm’s size. Had he known, he said he would have made sure there was adequate staff to move the body. Normally, the hospital informs him when a second person is needed for pick up, and Bostick said that didn’t happen. Meyers confirmed the hospital did not inform Bostick of Bohm’s size.
Bostick said the hour at which the body was picked up and the fact that it was to be cremated played a role in how it was stored at his facility. He said it was kept in what he calls the cold room used for embalming procedures. That room, he said, is air conditioned and suitable for storage and embalming. Bostick does not have refrigeration capabilities on his property.
State law requires that a body be refrigerated or put on ice within 24 hours of death. Bostick said that 24-hour window hadn’t passed when Tabor’s employees picked up Bohm’s body April 14.
Bohm’s mother said if Bostick didn’t consider her son’s dignity, then he should have considered his own and his employee’s health.
“My son died of blood poisoning. That’s bacteria. That’s a potential health hazard for anyone who comes in contact with it,” Barbara said.
This isn’t the first time Bostick’s treatment of a family has come under fire. Marine Lance Cpl. Jason Sepulveda, 22, of Fort Lupton was killed June 30, 2002, in North Carolina. His parents, Robert and Elis Sepulveda, gave Bostick the $980.49 that came from the Marine’s savings account when it closed. Bostick then billed the U.S. Marine Corp $4,880 for funeral expenses, and he was paid. When Elis Sepulveda asked for the $980.49 back, Bostick refused, saying the Marine Corp payment didn’t cover all the expenses. The family took Bostick to small-claims court and won a $7,500 judgment in June 2004, which included pain and suffering. Bostick, the mayor of Fort Lupton, has yet to pay it.
Intense media scrutiny over the Sepulveda case led to an angry outcry across the country. Bostick said he has received death threats this month because of that anger. People also have questioned his ability to serve as mayor considering his business practices, which include other long-term, unpaid debts and court judgments.
“It really is not related to me being mayor,” Bostick said. “I get sent a lot of people who come to me with nothing, and I still perform the services for nothing. That’s what’s kicking my butt financially. I take care of everyone.”
Barbara said she wants others to know the pain her family endured so others don’t have to suffer the same thing.
“It was bad enough that John got so sick so suddenly. It was a huge shock to us,” Barbara said. “Then to have to handle this thing with Bostick, it’s just horrible.
“There is nothing worse than losing your child,” Barbara said. “It doesn’t matter how old you are or how old your child is. It still hurts.”
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Bostick Funeral Home:"Unprofessional, shoddy, a disgrace, blatant disregard for dignity, no respect or concern"... for the dead or living .......
Bostick Funeral Homes has come under more severe criticism for their less than professional services on the body of John Wesley Bohm, whose horrific death-care treatment was witnessed by members of the family. “Thank God his mom and wife were not there to see that,” said Tom Johnes, Bohm’s stepfather. Jim Bostick, owner/operator of two Bostick Funeral Homes and Mayor of Lupton, Colorado, is the same Bostick who earned national ire for stealing $7500.00 from savings account of deceased Marine Jason Sepulveda.