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AG’s report on Ornelas injuries expected soon

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 08. 2014 6:54PM


Officials expect to release a report soon on the injuries that left Manchester resident Fern Ornelas with a broken neck and paralyzed after he sought treatment at the Elliot Hospital last October.

Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice said the report is being finalized and she anticipates that a press release will be issued soon. She said she could not be more specific as to when.Rice acknowledged that under normal circumstances, a report is not issued if criminal charges are to be brought in a case. But she would not discuss the specifics of the investigation.

Meanwhile, Ornelas remains at Crotched Mountain, a rehabilitation hospital in Greenfield. He said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he has no idea what the report will say.In December, he spoke to investigators who said at that point the investigation was 97 percent complete, and he expected something would be released in February.

“I don't like it. I'm upset about it,” he said about the delay. “I'm waiting. I'd like some answers.”Ornelas, who was 54 last October, is a Manchester resident well known around the city. He had worked at the Shaw's supermarket before it closed last September, and he was a frequent golfer at Derryfield Country Club.On Oct. 15, he went to the Elliot Hospital emergency room because he had stopped taking psychiatric medications, friends and family have said. At the time, hospital emergency rooms were holding psychiatric care patients for days, due to bottlenecks in the state's mental health system.Ornelas is accused of assaulting a hospital security guard the following day, and the security guard used force to subdue him.

Ornelas was transferred to Manchester police headquarters for booking on a simple assault charge, then taken to the Valley Street jail about midnight Oct. 17. Ornelas was returned to Elliot Hospital about 9:30 that morning with what family and friends say was a broken neck that left him paralyzed.Ornelas said he undergoes physical therapy at Crotched Mountain, and some movement has returned to his arms and legs, but very little.

He said he uses a motorized wheelchair. He cannot feed himself, and he cannot hold a book. He spends most days in therapy, watching television and seeing visitors, he said.“I'm doing one day at a time,” he said.

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