EMPLOYEES OF HYPERBARIC FACILITY CHARGED IN FIERY DEATHS
4-YEAR-OLD AND GRANDMOTHER KILLED IN 2009
PIO Number: 12-4-16 (09-5-4) BSO Case Number: LS09-05-00010
Date: May 1, 2009 Time: 11:28 a.m.
Place of Occurrence: 4001 N. Ocean Dr., Lauderdale-By-The-Sea
Victim(s): Vincenza Pesce, female, 62, 03/30/47, Italy (DECEASED)
Francesco Martinisi, male, 4, 09/03/04, Italy (DECEASED)
Suspect(s): Lance Bark, male, 51, 5/3/60, 2490 N.W. 49TH Terr, Coconut Creek (IN CUSTODY)
George Daviglus, male, 81, 10/5/30, 1190 N.W. 95th St. #305, Miami
Description of Incident:
Broward Sheriff’s Office detectives have charged two employees of a hyperbaric facility for gross negligence in failing to maintain equipment in which a 4-year-old boy and his grandmother died in a 2009 fire. Both men face charges of manslaughter and aggravated manslaughter. The charges were the result of a joint investigation with the State Fire Marshal’s Office and BSO.
On May 1, 2009, Vincenza Pesce was holding her 4-year-old grandson, Francesco Martinisi, inside of a tube-like hyperbaric chamber as he was being treated for cerebral palsy. Investigators believe the fire was started by static electricity inside the chamber. It took nearly two minutes to free the two, who were completely engulfed in flames and later died of their injuries. Investigators noted various electrical issues with the “Vickers” hyperbaric chambers such as burned wiring and soldered exposed wiring. The chambers were dusty, and some were rigged using electrical extension cords taped together with electrical tape and broken indicator lights on the chamber controls.
Lance Bark, safety director and technician at Ocean Hyperbaric Neurologic Center, and Dr. George Daviglus, medical director, failed to make sure the chambers and patients were properly grounded and maintained. They failed to have the required annual inspections of the chambers and failed to make sure the patients were wearing the proper attire. They didn’t know the proper decompression procedures once the fire started and didn’t properly supervise the patients while they were inside the chamber.
In addition, detectives found a 2008 letter to the center detailing age-related problems with the “Vickers” hyperbaric chambers indicating that the employees knew of the problems. The chamber in question was built in 1967 and refurbished in 1984.
BSO deputies arrested Bark Wednesday afternoon at the center. Daviglus told detectives he will turn himself in Monday with his attorney in Broward County. The center is still open but operates under a new name, the Neubauer Center.
Det. Ilarazza, Sgt. Feeley, Capt. Schnakenberg, CI
State Fire Marshal, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
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