HOUSTON – A 23-year-old woman complaining of shortness of breath has died after a rush to find medical help came up short.
Shyteria Shardae “Shy” Shoemaker, 23, was pronounced dead at 2:38 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Calhoun City after she told friends at a house just south of Houston she couldn’t catch her breath.
Chickasaw County 911 records indicate the first call came in at 1:18 a.m. saying Shoemaker was having difficulty breathing and had a history of asthma. Dispatchers notified an ambulance in Okolona and two minutes later toned out Rhodes Chapel Volunteer Fire Department.
At 1:25 a.m. a second call came to 911 saying they were headed to the hospital in Houston. 911 dispatchers said there was no emergency room there and told the party to go to the Houston Fire Department in downtown Houston.
“They came to the fire department and we went to the car to give assistance,” said Houston Fire Chief Jonathan Blankenship. “The people who were with her then made the decision to carry her to Calhoun City.”
Blankenship would not comment on Shoemaker’s condition. Dispatch records indicate Shoemaker arrived at the fire station about 1:26 p.m.
Dispatchers at Chickasaw 911 had rerouted the ambulance to downtown Houston, and police stopped the vehicle Shoemaker was in on the south side of The Square. She was loaded into the ambulance and whisked to the emergency room at Baptist Hospital in Calhoun City.
Calhoun County Coroner Jerry Wayne Fleming said Shoemaker was pronounced dead at 2:38 a.m.
“They tried to resuscitate here for about 20- to 30-minutes, but never got her to come around,” said Fleming. “The family and friends who brought her didn’t know what happened and I did request an autopsy.”
Fleming said those results have not been reported to him.
Shoemaker’s funeral was held at 1 p.m. Saturday Feb. 9, at West Clay Elementary School Auditorium in Montpelier. Burial followed at Community Cemetery in Clay County.
Family and friends have been stunned by the death of a healthy woman who had a 2-year-old daughter and was pregnant.
“She was a good mother and was 15-weeks pregnant,” said Nicole Griffin, Shoemaker’s aunt. “We couldn’t find anyone who could help her.”
Griffin said the ambulance normally stationed in Houston was on another call and she was told that is part of the reason it took so long for the ambulance to get to Shoemaker.
Griffin said those with Shoemaker “got excited” waiting on the ambulance.
“They decided they had to do something and were going to carry her to the hospital when we were told the stop at the fire station,” said Griffin. “It was just a tragedy there were no doctors anywhere around to help her.”
The emergency room at Trace Regional Hospital closed in the summer of 2014. Administrators at the time said the emergency room lost more than $2 million in one year after people came there for treatment and did not pay.
Chickasaw County Supervisors contracted with CareMed in October 2017 for two ambulances to be stationed in Chickasaw County 24/7 for $95,000.
It takes about 25-minutes to get from Houston to Calhoun City, 40-minutes to get to the emergency room in West Point and 45-minutes to get to North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.
Last fall the community seemed to be seeking ways to revive the emergency room or some kind of after hours clinic with several people writing a series of letters to the Chickasaw Journal about the issue. Nothing materialized.