WOMEN WHO FOUGHT TO SURVIVE: SINDELAR & SCHIAVO
By Jill Cohen Walker, J.D.
They were two women from different parts of the United States who became incapacitated at almost the same time under very difference circumstances. Their stories are both similar and different, but the outcome was the same. Both women are gone, one the victim of government bureaucracy, the courts, and the IRS; the other the victim of a controlling husband, the euthanasia crowd, and their minions in the courts.
You’ve heard all about Terri Schindler-Schiavo (or did you really hear it all?), but you know nothing about Carla Sindelar. You will know her soon because I will tell you her story.
What happened to these two women was deplorable, but let’s put emotion and outrage aside and try to be a little objective, if that’s possible. It’s okay to lament about what’s happened, but for the skeptics out there, objectivity sometimes makes it easier to put the pieces of the puzzle together, unless you refuse to accept some information as fact. (Hard to do when you don’t want to see the big picture. Harder to do when your heart tells you that evil is on a campaign that won’t end unless we make it end.)
Carla Rae Sindelar graduated from Thomas Edison High School in Elmira, NY. She didn’t loiter around after graduation; she was a responsible young woman who wanted to make something of her life. She attended The Boyd Agency Travel School in Pittsburgh, PA, and was barely 18 when she was hired by Continental Airlines to work in their Ithaca, NY office. After additional training through Continental, she returned to Elmira, but unforeseen events altered the course of Carla’s life and destroyed a promising future.
On February 23, 1990, she was on her way home to spend the evening with her father, Bob Sindelar, when her small car was struck by a standard-size pickup trick. It was driven by a 17-year-old boy who was riding with his mother. The two had just left a local bar (what was he doing there?) and almost caused an accident up the road before running head on into Carla’s vehicle. Other cars tried to avoid the accident, but within seconds, Carla was in the center of a tangle of metal, her body severely bruised and broken.
She was immediately pronounced dead by a doctor who lived across the street from the accident and raced over to help. When the paramedics arrived, however, she was quickly revived and rushed to the hospital. She was kept in a medically induced coma in intensive care for about three weeks. Medical treatment was adequate, but for the medically induced coma, and included brain scans which revealed some swelling, but no permanent brain damage. Her bones would heal, she would need lots of physical therapy, but she would make it.
About three weeks into her hospital stay, doctors decided that Carla needed a tracheotomy (a costly procedure used by some hospitals to stay afloat financially). They said it would help her breath better. Bob had a hunch it was not a good thing to do, but her mother, Marjorie Sindelar King, believed what the doctors told her. (Don’t many of us believe the doctors, especially in an emergency?) Marjorie gave the required permission to do the procedure and Bob felt almost forced to agree. Unfortunately, the first cut was 1.5 inches to the right of where it should have been. Carla’s lungs collapsed when the tracheotomy tube was forcibly and incorrectly inserted.
She suffered a debilitating stroke that left her with permanent brain damage, spent six months in the hospital, one month in rehab, and was sent home at the request of her parents instead of being placed in a nursing home. She was in a coma for two years, but even after she came out of it, she continued to require 24-hour total care. (Question: Was Carla the victim of mere negligence or of a plot thicker than pea soup? I have several inexpressible hunches.)
“Like any decent divorced parent, I did my best for her while her mother and volunteers helped when time allowed,” Bob said. “I believed her care was my responsibility but soon discovered the legal consequences of that decision. Crafty lawyers surfaced like cockroaches deceptively conspiring to steal the small amount of accident settlement available to her.”
While the Sindelar’s journey was filled with horrendous obstacles, Carla was at least fortunate that she didn’t have a husband or other relative who would pursue a court-ordered death sentence. Instead, she had loving parents who were determined to help her, just like the Schindlers wanted to help Terri. In fact, Bob Sindelar and his ex-wife cared for their daughter with such remarkable success that Carla began to improve. However, it was a round-the-clock experience, and after awhile they were worn out. They needed help.
For seven years Chemung County refused to provide part-time, in-home nursing care for Carla, which made it necessary for Bob to defend Carla’s right to remain at home. He had petitioned the appropriate government agencies because he was sleeping only two to four hours per day, but soon realized the state didn’t want to help. As he said, “The state wanted my daughter . . . and it wanted her dead.”
Can you imagine a social worker looking at you and saying, “Don’t you think it’s time to throw in the towel and euthanize your child? After all, the government has passed such great legislation on who gets to live and who doesn’t, and your child fits so neatly in the “doesn’t” category. So, how about it? Will you sign these papers please?”
It could happen that way . . . which should make all of us furious that we are rapidly moving toward that slippery slope. The headlines might read, “Elites now decide who lives or dies” and all we could do is shudder, read the article under those words, and pray it never applies to us or our loved ones. (Or the headline might read: “Religious cult thinks social sanity depends on the disposal of those who don’t score high on their little test.” Check out Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard. Then check out its relationship to Pinellas County, FL.)
Bob wasn’t about to lose his daughter to the state. He knew what the outcome would be and he wasn’t ready to make funeral arrangements for Carla; he wanted to care for her. His efforts paid off and Carla was approved for part-time, in-home nursing assistance and some occupational therapy. One nurse was quick on the uptake as reported at the website Bob created in memory of Carla:
“After much conversation with Bob, I have come to the realization, that the state and federal government keep most people from caring for their families at home by their lack of financial assistance to them,” wrote Cathy Phalen, LPN. “This is just downright criminal. Carla's care at home is ten times better than what could be done for her at any facility” (http://home.stny.rr.com/sindelar).
Like Terri Schindler-Schiavo, Carla had a feeding tube through which Bob fed her a special formula that he developed. Like Terri, she could eat by mouth because she could swallow. The dilemma for patients in this condition is their inability to move if they aspirate food which causes them to choke and suffocate. Terri was not allowed to have food by mouth per Michael’s instructions, though a few nurses let her suck orange juice from a washcloth or have some Jell-O. Carla was allowed food by mouth only when a knowledgeable and responsible adult was present until they were certain she would not aspirate.
While Bob and his ex-wife worked to help their daughter, Bob became a pariah in Elmira, NY. He fought court battle after court battle to get appropriate care for his daughter. State agencies that visited his home were impressed with his abilities, but they claimed their hands were tied.
Many in the community showed their love and compassion toward the Sindelars, but some weren’t as kind. Bob had to deal with several immediate neighbors who resented him for taking Carla out for walks. To them, she was a “monster” who should be kept indoors. (Take a look at her pictures on Bob’s website and tell me that beautiful woman should have been called a monster!)
Then the city went after him in court for not keeping his yard in pristine condition. Evidently, they didn’t like his antiques or building materials. In reality, they wanted to break the man who was doing the impossible—loving and caring for his terribly disabled daughter. The community wanted to help, but Bob didn’t want charity. It wasn’t pride that stopped him, it was determination and disgust.
Lawyers worked their schemes to take as much as they could from Carla’s settlement money and judges gave validity to the new mantra “judicial tyranny.” As Bob wrote, “. . . judges took the position of God; ‘I'm only looking out for Carla Rae's best interest,’ was blurted out! They referred to Carla's mom and me like we just crawled out of a rain barrel.
During this unconscionable treatment of two parents who dearly loved their child; it seemed everyone had a voice in what was to become of her but us.”
It has a familiar ring, doesn’t it? It gets worse.
Bob invested in the stock market with the hope of making money for his daughter’s care. He admits it was a huge gamble, but it paid off. He chose to live well below the poverty level and keep his earnings for Carla’s future needs. When his accountant told him he had to pay capital gains taxes, he wrote a check for $10,155.00 to the IRS, and another for $3,606.00 to NY State from an account he set up for Carla's care. He didn’t want to sell more stocks because the market was down. Both checks were filed with his federal and state tax returns.
Months later, the IRS notified him by mail that he failed to pay his capital gains taxes. It took many phone calls for Bob to ascertain that the IRS had lost his check. The check had to be found or at least stopped so he could write a replacement check. Otherwise his account would have been overdrawn. When an agreement was finally reached, he mailed them a “replacement check and letter a stating he was in compliance with the agreement.” He also mentioned that the IRS had violated New York State Law when it endangered the welfare of an incompetent person—a class A misdemeanor under Section 260.25. They didn’t agree.
Bob had no one who would defend him against the federal agency that was well known for its ability to destroy lives. His accountant did his best, but there wasn’t a lawyer around who wanted to take on the federal government to protect Bob, which meant protecting Carla’s right to life . . . and the IRS continued its pattern of harassment.
Bob Sindelar said on his website and on the phone with me, “Had the IRS kept their word, Carla would be alive today. We had an agreement to send the accountant’s letter of responsibility and a replacement check to close the matter. I did that and they didn’t quit.” Instead the IRS placed a levy on Bob’s bank account and only agreed to lift it if he paid them $50 per month. Payments were to start on January 28, 2003. Bob was left with no money, which put Carla in grave danger, especially if utilities were shut off. He asked the IRS twice for a home tax audit. It was denied both times. On December 4, 2002, the IRS reneged on its agreement and emptied out Bob Sindelar’s bank account. Carla Rae died nine days later, on December 13, 2002, at the age of 31, because of government-imposed poverty and lack of government accountability.
The IRS never questioned the accuracy of Bob’s tax return and the second check replaced the check lost by the agency. So what did Bob do wrong? What did his daughter do wrong? And why is the IRS still harassing Bob Sindelar for interest and penalties they claim he owes when they’re the ones who lost his check?
Those are just a few questions that need answers. Here’s another question: Where were the politicians, the clergy, the Christians, the right-to-lifers, and the folks who are supposed to care for the downtrodden and disabled? As in Terri’s case, many took a hike out the back door and ran far away from a handicapped woman who needed their help because it was politically expedient. Such is the way of those I refer to as the morally unrestrained.
No, I don’t want the government or a host of others meddling in my life, but I also don’t want the government to control what happens to me if I’m hospitalized with a serious, terminal, or life-threatening condition. I don’t want the government to commit the crime of death by omission—the failure to act to save the life of another—and that’s what the government did when it not only failed to help save Carla and Terri, but when it helped snuffed them out.
Part 2 of this series examines some of the evidence the judges, particularly Judge Greer, refused to hear, considered irrelevant or just plain ignored. Indeed, we’ve come a long way . . . we’re so very “progressive” if we think nothing about the murder of the innocent and cry in outrage over a criminal who is legally put to death. We sob when the media tells us our soldiers are murdering the innocent (which they’re not) and wax cold when one of ours is beheaded by the enemy. We are calling good evil and evil good because we don’t want to judge . . . but our lack of appropriate action is the same as a judgment.
© 2005 - Jill Cohen Walker - All Rights Reserved
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Jill Cohen Walker earned a BA from Goddard College in 1977, a JD from Franklin Pierce Law Center in 1980, and an MS in journalism at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1999. A freelance writer for fifteen years, she has written numerous articles for tech magazines and newspapers, and co-authored a book on hiring practices in the printing industry.
She taught Social Studies for one year in a northern middle school, and medical-legal and bio-medical courses in the Allied Health division of a local community college for four years. A student of legal history and the US Constitution, she began to study current events and Bible prophecies in March 1985. Her deep interest in and awareness of American politics started during the 2000 elections when she realized the prophetic time clock was ticking fast. She is the co-author of the novel "The Call to Prayer". (www.thecalltoprayer.net).
worked their schemes to take as much as they could from Carla’s settlement
money and judges gave validity to the new mantra “judicial tyranny.” As
Bob wrote, “. . . judges took the position of God