In a series of tweets posted last week, journalist Mary Emily O’Hara said medics were “forced” by state police to stop working on Charlottesville counter-protester Heather Heyer. 32-year-old Heyer died from blunt force injury to her chest after a neo-Nazi hit her with his car at the infamous Charlottesville, Virginia, “Unite the Right” rally.
According to O’Hara, the medics believe Heyer could have been saved if they were allowed to proceed with medical attention. The bombshell story, however, was barred from being published by her “former employer,” O’Hara said, and she was not allowed to publish it elsewhere. It’s unclear whom O’Hara was referring to as her former employer; her work has been featured in outlets including MSNBC, The Daily Dot, NBC News, The Daily Beast, Vice, Rolling Stone, and others.
“The week Heather Heyer died, I had exclusive interviews with medics who said state police forced them to stop working on her after the crash — which they believed led to her death,” the journalist posted to Twitter on Monday. “The piece was canceled by my employer at the time, but I’ll never forget what those medics told me.”
When questioned by a Twitter user why the story was canned, O’Hara responded, “Honestly I was very upset at the time. The segment was canceled because Jerry Lewis died that week and the network decided to run tributes instead of news for that hour.”
It’s unclear if the Heyer family was ever informed of the report from O’Hara, she said, noting that the story was banned from being posted elsewhere.
When O’Hara received pushback over the apparent controversial nature of her claims, she noted a blog post from one of the medics echoing her posts.
“It’s not really so controversial. If you poke around on google for 5 minutes or so you’ll find a blog post written by one of the medics the week of the crash,” she wrote.
The blog post to which O’Hara was likely referring was written by an anonymous poster on August 15, 2017, the same week Heyer died, at It’s Going Down.
“As a queer, non-binary, anarchist, critical care RN/street medic who was the first responder for Heather Heyer, initiating CPR and, with a team of amazing bystanders, facilitating resuscitation until EMS arrived, I feel a compelling need to tell our story,” the post reads.
The first responder detailed the events as follows:
I was horrified to discover, after two minutes of intense, exhausting chest compressions, that a state trooper had forcibly removed the EMT assisting me in resuscitation, as well as other bystanders ready in line for the next round of compressions. The EMT told the state trooper that we were actively resuscitating a patient, but the state trooper physically removed him from the scene anyway.
I had to yell for other bystanders to come assist with compressions, and two people courageously responded, despite the threats of the state trooper. The state trooper then began yelling at me to leave my patient. I initially thought that perhaps he intended to take over chest compressions, and counted him in to start the next round of compressions … but he stood by and said he could not do compressions. Why?! I thought to myself.
He continued yelling at me to leave, and would not back down until I screamed that I’m a critical care nurse, I do CPR frequently, we have a patient without a pulse or respirations, and we will NOT stop CPR. He then began screaming that I could stay, but the other bystanders assisting CPR had to leave (they didn’t), and he did not stop until a firefighter arrived and took over chest compressions.
“With so much interest in this story being told, I just wanted to let everyone know I’ve started reaching back out to try to talk with the medics that worked on Heather Heyer right after the crash to see if they are still interested in sharing their version of events,” O’Hara announced. “Please bear with me, I’m a now-unemployed journalist with nowhere near the resources of a major news network and it’s been two years since I spoke with anyone. But I’m trying!”