Spokesman: Family Questions EMS Assessment

Deborah Rubens was about only 50 yards from her workplace, the Clarion hotel, Wednesday when her car collided with the SUV driven by Columbia mayor-elect Steve Benjamin. ABC Columbia News received a report from Richland County Emergency Medical Services saying Rubens was in fair condition when she was transported to the hospital. But Bill Ellen, Rubens’ employer, who says he’s speaking for the family, says they want people to know that the initial EMS assessment was inaccurate. Ellen says Rubens has been unconscious since the crash occurred. Richland County spokeswoman Stephany Snowden says, “When we assessed the patient, she was in fair condition. We stand by the information we sent out initially.” Snowden says the county follows guidelines from the American Hospital Association. That organization says a patient listed in fair condition is “conscious” and “indicators are favorable.” Ellen says Rubens is on life support, that she has head trauma and multiple broken bones. He says her family is by her side at the hospital. Also Thursday, Department of Public Safety spokesman Sid Gaulden says Columbia police called a state trooper to the crash scene for one reason, to verify that Steve Benjamin was not impaired. Gaulden says that trooper did not find any signs that Benjamin was drunk. Benjamin’s spokesman says the mayor-elect requested an investigation by the Highway Patrol because he did not want there to be any favoritism on the part of the Columbia Police Department. To see the video, click on the player under the news section.