DOBSON, N.C. (AP) — A convicted sex offender who was allowed to be licensed as an emergency medical technician despite his criminal record is part of a lawsuit filed by a mother who blames him and Surry County officials for her daughter’s suicide.
The lawsuit filed says Michael Bryan Cochran, 39, was allowed to become an emergency medical technician in violation of state law.
Cochran and his wife Rhonda, who also worked at the State Road Volunteer Fire Department, ignored their training when they talked to her daughter on the phone for more than an hour as she threatened to kill herself rather than calling for help, says the lawsuit, filed March 30 in Surry County by Dawn Wood.
Wood is the mother of Megan Wood, 26, who shot herself May 25, 2014, with a 12-gauge shotgun in her apartment in Elkin while the Cochrans listened on their cellphones, according to the lawsuit and 911 calls obtained by The Associated Press. The couple kept Megan Wood on the phone and didn’t call 911 right away because they didn’t want authorities to learn that Michael Bryan Cochran was having an affair with Megan Wood, according to the lawsuit.
They also were covering up their conversation with Megan Wood on May 24, 2014 — the day before Wood died — when they tried to persuade her to have an affair with both Cochrans, the lawsuit says.
If either defendant had “contacted emergency authorities in Surry County immediately, help could have gotten to Megan over one (1) hour prior to her death, intervened appropriately and more likely than not prevented her suicide,” the lawsuit says.
In addition to the Cochrans, the lawsuit names the chief and other members of the State Road Volunteer Fire Department, whom it says supported the EMT license for Michael Bryan Cochran even though they knew of his past. Other defendants include the Surry County emergency medical services director and training director.
Phone messages left at the fire department and emergency medical services by The AP were not returned. The Cochrans didn’t respond to phone or email messages. The county attorney also didn’t respond to questions.
North Carolina law states that people who have to register for the sex offender registry cannot get an EMT license. However, Cochran had successfully petitioned to be removed from the registry.
Alexandra Lefebrve, spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services, which oversees the agency that licenses EMTs, didn’t respond to emails about whether DHHS has a policy to handle EMT licensing requests from sex offenders who are no longer on the registry.
Wood is seeking damages of more than $25,000.