Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Mother is looking for answers about her son.


I think most of us have heard stories of how unresponsive the police are in Korea. Here is something that will hit a nerve and evoke sympathy. On Saturday, May 11th, 2008. 14 year old Mike Stephen White died in a jimjil bang in Daegu. Mike is the son of Stephannie White, who is an English teacher in Daegu. So far she has gotten very little help from the police. She is in the process of hiring lawyer to help with the case. This is something that can happen to any of us. What can we do about the unresponsive nature of the police in Korea?

Stephannie sent a text message (that was reported on the above link On 13 May 2008) STATING THAT The police will not give her a copy of the police report regarding Michael's death. Any ideas?


UPDATE 1...........................................................................

What Happened to Michael

Last Saturday, May 10th Mike, Corina, Maggie & I went to Royal Hawaii Sauna to relax. At 11:45 staff notified Corina & I that Mike needed to go to the hospital. I called his cell phone at 11:47 thinking he just needed stitches or something... it wouldn't be the first time ;-)

When he didn't answer, we threw on our clothes and rushed out to the parking lot to discover that Mike was already in the ambulance. There are ALOT of unanswered questions. The ambulance guy (1 of 2) was doing a crappy job of chest compressions. Apparently, the Sauna called Mike in as DOA & the ambulance was sent as transport only. After they arrived (LATE, they were called in at 11:02!!) they started CPR.

The really heart wrenching part for me, is that the staff didn't get me or Corina. We are both first responder trained & we could have saved his life.

The autopsy showed he suffered damage to his throat, lungs & back of his mouth from extreme coughing & retching. Even if no one was in the room the sounds should have been echoing to alert staff/patrons that someone was in distress. The doctor who did the autopsy said there was a strong time frame when Mike could have been revived if folks had 1) responded to his distress 2) the staff didn't presume to know Mike's medical condition with The manager of the Sauna keeps calling & wanting details about Mike's condition & autopsy. He knows he fucked up and he's scrambling to cover his ass. The cops hadn't even interviewed anyone from the Sauna so they're about pinkerton.

The police are already back peddling and saying they will "try" to find some answers to my questions. I think it would be better for everyone possible should be asking these questions to as many places & people as possible.

It's been a long day & I'm really needing to step back after riding with Mike to & back from Ulsan for the autopsy and then the police report. I'll add more information in the morning.

Let the Sun decide

UPDATE #2..........................................................................


Thank you for your time, thoughts & comments. I'm really wiped out now, and I know everyone is leery of rumors about Mike. It's a fine line between Murder and Manslaughter and under US laws it would be clearer. Here, there is no framework in law for manslaughter & without witnesses to what happened first in the Men's bathing room, well... no murder charge either.

What do you call it when a room full of men/boys doing their family bathing before the Buddha holiday just turn their backs on someone who's coughing & retching so bad that there's extensive damage to his throat, lungs & back of the mouth. What do you call it when 'someone" called him in DOA at 11:02, the mother isn't notified until 11:45 and she arrives in the parking lot to discover that the DOA is actually alive & NOW doesn't have proper help because the WRONG type of ambulance was sent.

have you ever been around a choking victim? Have you ever been CPR/First responder trained? My friend (Corina) and I are Corina & I both have held certifications in the past. When the ER gave up after 15 minutes, she & kept up chest compressions for an hour & a half waiting for the ER staff to drain his lungs. The official cause of death is suspicious drowning. The autopsy doctor said there was a strong chance of survival if several things had been done. There was a window of opportunity of nearly an hour to save his life. Anyone who wants to debate the medical chances of survival ~ well you just bring it on. If you want to help me get answers, then come to a silent vigil. The purpose of the vigil is just to show folks that ppl do know about this and lots of ppl are waiting/wanting answers. Just silently waiting.

UPDATE 3...........................................................................

This is Stephannie, Mike's MoM. I didn't set up this webgroup but sure do appreciate those who did/do.

I'd like to respond to various questions the expat community has been asking concerning the nature of Mike's situation.

Grief has various stages, I'm in anger mode right now. The official "Ning" site for organizers is a closed private forum where accurate information is being disseminated. This Facebook site is great as a posting outlet to let folks know what's going on. Again, thanks for the well wishes, thoughts, time & efforts on Mike's behalf. More information will be announced later today. Right now I'm just catching up with what is going on in various parts of the world. Love & Sunny days, Steph

UPDATE 4.............................................................................

Hello everyone,

I am writing to let you know about a silent compassion vigil being
held at the American Embassy in Seoul on Friday, May 16th, 2008 from
8:30 am onward. The vigil is being held in the memory of Stephen
Michael White. There will also be another silent vigil at the
Gyeongsan Royal Hawaii Sauna on Sunday, May 18th. (Gyeongsan is a 10
minute train ride from DongDageu Station).

Michael was a 14 year old member of our expats community. Some of
you may know him, or his mother, Stephannie White, from KOTESOL,
Hoseo University, KonKuk University, Yeungnam University or from
expat events. On Saturday evening, May 10th, we went to the Royal
Hawaii Sauna to relax after a long day and the unthinkable happened.
While Michael was in the men's side of the spa, he was drowned in a
shallow cold pool.

Michael was nearly 6 ft tall and a strong swimmer. He was versed in
how to be safe with regards to paying attention to his heart and
breathing in sauna/hot tubs. He was in excellent health and had no
pre-consisting conditions, or conditions discovered in the autopsy
that would have caused him to drown on his own.

His mother and I were not notified that there was an emergency with
Michael until sometime after an ambulance had arrived. Later in the
week we were informed that the ambulance was apparently called at
11:02 pm, but we were not notified until 11:45 pm. Both of us have
first responder training and might have been able to save his life.
Everything surrounding Michael's death was a horrible chain of
people's unwillingness to act promptly and properly. The poor
response was from every level of response Michael received from the
patrons at the spa with him, to the staff, to the paramedics who
arrived without oxygen, equipment to monitor vital signs or paddles
to restart the heart, to the emergency room staff and finally the
police who didn't bother to close the spa and hold everyone inside
for questioning.

The autopsy showed he suffered damage to his throat, lungs & back of
his mouth from extreme coughing & retching. Even if no one was in
the room the sounds should have been echoing to alert staff/patrons
that someone was in distress. The doctor who did the autopsy said
there was a strong time frame when Mike could have been revived if
folks had 1) responded to his distress 2) the staff didn't presume to
know Mike's medical condition without training 3) the ambulance had

Please don't let this tragedy go unnoticed. There are so many
questions that his mother and those of us who loved him want
answered. It is likely that we will never know everything exactly,
but we need to push the powers that be to at least try to find
Justice for Michael.

Please join in one of the silent vigils if you are able. Please
forward this e-mail to others in the expats community who may not be
on this site. Please forward this e-mail to other expat sites that
you know of. Please forward this e-mail to any members of the
American military bases who might also be interested in not letting
Mike be forgotten.

There is a facebook group started in Michael's memory. The group is
called: A Mother is looking for answers about her son.

There are many questions she wants answered, but some of the
questions she wants fellow expats to ask with her are as follows:

1. Are there government regulations about safety procedures both
for customers and staff in public baths? If yes, does Royal Hawaii
follow those regulations?

2. Were resuscitation measures done before the paramedics arrived?

3. Why didn't the staff try to find Mother immediately?

4. How come nobody tried to help Michael when he was coughing &

5. Why didn't anyone come forward with a statement to the police
about what happened to Michael?

6. What gives the Sauna the right/medical authority to call in a
false DOA?

Again, please give your time and support.

In Memory of Michael,

Corina Fransen


Anonymous said...

I’m humbled by the outreach I’ve seen in reaction to Mike’s death. I dont know how I could ever thank everyone enough for helping me spreas the word about this~trying to raise awareness and put pressure on the police via the media. Today, I was interviewed by a Korean Language daily and tomorrow a TV station wants to set up an interview. With increased media exposure, Mike has a chance for justice. All this could not have been possible without the help of the bloggers out there who spread the word & got the attention needed to bring in the crowds at the two vigils so far. The fight for justice has just begun. I can only say thank you from the shards of my shattered heart. ~ Mike’s Mom (stephannie)

TAEYOUNG said...

Dear Ms. Stephannie White. Today I heard this accident from Chosunilbo that is the one of the biggest newspapers in Korea. We Koreans are very sorry for this accident. We hope every truth about it makes clear. Anyone who is guilty of your son's death should be punished and we will keep watching for it to be done. I know any word can not comfot you. Just.... Sorry again.

Taeyoun Yoo

kmarie.ripsmw said...

Momma Stephannie.

there isn't a single day that I go through without thinking about Stephen. I miss him so much and he was the best friend I could ever ask for. I hope that life is treating him well in heaven and I know he is with us everywhere we go. some days crying is all that helps and I can only imagine how you feel about it. I wish there was a way to rewind time and make it so he was still here.

Love Always.

Karey Marie.