Saturday, March 31, 2018

Information from Mark’s Attending Physician

This post discusses observations about my brother’s condition made by his attending physician at the Erie County Medical Center, where Mark was airlifted late on the night of September 23, 2003, following his suspicious truck fire.

Dr. Edward Piotrowski, who administered to Mark at the burn unit, spoke with me several times by telephone in 2005.  He acknowledged that he had been very concerned about Mark's condition, emphasizing that he had never seen anyone come in so badly burned, with third-degree and even some fourth-degree burns over about 90% of his body.

In addition to the severity of the burns, Dr. Piotrowski wondered how Mark had got gasoline on his head.  He was also concerned about the badly burned state of Mark's hands, including his palms, which indicated to him that he had tried to put the flames out and had thus not been attempting to commit suicide.

Beyond the burns, Dr. Piotrowski expressed concern over soft-tissue swelling on my brother’s forehead, "not in the skin sense, but in a deeper sense," which made him think that Mark might have been hit over the head.  He also challenged the very high serum alcohol level recorded in the autopsy report, noting that no blood alcohol test had been performed while Mark was in the burn unit and that only his corpse could have been used for the test. [On the blood alcohol issue, see posts of September 11 and 23 and October 29, 2013, and August 24, 2016.]

Before my conversations with him, Dr. Piotrowski had not known anything about the pool of Mark’s blood found on his driveway the night of the fire.  He asked if Mark had suffered from a sinus condition, and I informed him that I had never been aware of my brother having sinus problems.  Dr. Piotrowski stated the only other explanation for the mucus would have been a blow to his nose, which he added could easily have caused the pool of blood found in the driveway.  He also revealed that, as a further indication that Mark had likely been attacked, there was additional soft-tissue damage on the left side of his face. [On the head wounds, see posts of September 22, 2010, and September 24, 2016.]

Dr. Piotrowski suggested a possible scenario for an attack and murder: first, being punched in the nose, causing the pool of blood in the driveway; next, receiving a blow to the head and further trauma to the face; then, being dragged into the truck, which was backed down the driveway and into the field; finally, gasoline being poured over him and the truck set on fire.

According to my nephew John McKenna, who was at the burn unit in the morning of September 24, shortly before Mark died, Dr. Piotrowski stated that Mark had been doused with a flammable liquid and that it was no accident.

Although very concerned about so many troubling aspects of Mark’s condition, Dr. Piotrowski explained that since no one from the investigation ever questioned him, he assumed that the authorities had an explanation for the events.  But it is difficult to understand why the doctor would not talk with Atty. Michael Kelly, who tried to have a conversation with him in the fall of 2005. According to a N.Y. State Police official, when Sen. Inv. John Wolfe finally reached him by telephone, Dr. Piotrowski claimed that he did not remember the case.  Yet the doctor had told me that he could not forget Mark’s case, involving such severe burns.  Although he stated to me that he would contact an F.B.I. official about his concerns over Mark’s death, to the best of my knowledge he never did.

Does a doctor not have both a legal and an ethical responsibility to report his information and his concerns to the proper authorities in such a case?

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