Emergency Crews Decline Comment As State Investigates Cyclist’s Death

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EUREKA SPRINGS (KFSM) – The Eureka Springs Fire Department on Thursday declined comment while state health workers investigate a cyclist’s death from last weekend.

A preliminary state medical examiner report released Monday states a breathing tube placed in Laura Wooldridge’s esophagus by medical crews contributed to her death. The Arkansas Department of Heath announced later in the week it was investigating the incident.

A spokesman for the fire department said Eureka Springs firefighters are cooperating with the state’s investigation, although the medical personnel who tended to Wooldridge’s injuries were employed by AirEvac Life Team, not the Eureka Springs Fire Department.

The department held a meeting Thursday morning, where they asked fire crews to refrain from talking to the public or releasing any more documentation on Wooldridge’s death or the subsequent state investigation, according to the fire department.

Wooldridge, 39, died from esophageal intubation with complicating neck and face trauma, after crashing her mountain bike while cycling the trails near Lake Leatherwood, authorities said.

Wooldridge’s thyroid and larynx were crushed, requiring responding medical crews to place a breathing tube in her neck instead of through the mouth, officials said.

Because medical personnel placed the tube above the crushed thyroid, the tube went down the esophogus, officials said.

The preliminary report was filed Monday (July 21) by Dr. Stephen Erickson.

Wooldridge, of Little Rock, emerged from the woods after her wreck near Lake Leatherwood covered in blood, said bystander Jared Joseph. Joseph said he saw her walk out of a trail carrying her bicycle after the crash.

She was walking and talking without much difficulty, and she was bleeding profusely from her lip and chin area, Joseph said.

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