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Anthony Fennick Will Die Saturday Morning, Days After Degrading at Flagler Jail. Family Awaits Answers.

| February 8, 2019

Anthony Fennick today in ICU. He will be pulled off the respirator on Saturday. (© FlaglerLive)

Anthony Fennick today in ICU. He will be pulled off the respirator on Saturday.
(© FlaglerLive)

Note: Anthony Fennick’s family has set up a GoFundMe page here.

But for the breathing machine and the blood pressure medication keeping his heart pumping, Anthony Fennick is lifeless. He’s in a room at AdventHealth Palm Coast’s intensive care unit. There’s no beeping, no rhythmic clattering from a ventilator, just a faint whir laboring for his lung’s sake, innumerable tubes and wires and an IV in and out of so much of him, and Anthony as if asleep, his hands upturned at his side.

The two sheriff’s deputies who had been guarding him have been dismissed, as guarding him was pointless: Fennick, 23, has been brain dead almost since an ambulance brought him to the hospital from the Flagler County jail late Monday night, after days of high fever at the jail, and on Monday,  vomiting and having a “medical episode,” in the sheriff”s office’s description. It was, in fact, a seizure.

By then it was too late. He’d been complaining of high fevers for four or five days and deteriorating over those five days, his mother, who’d speak to him daily by phone, says. Medical staff would treat him with ibuprofen and tell him he couldn’t see a doctor until Tuesday. Monday was the night of his “episode.” He had a second seizure at the hospital, where he went into respiratory and cardiac arrest. His heart was revived after nine minutes. But the man who’d been Anthony Fennick was gone.

“I know he’s here and I know you can hug him,” a doctor told his mother Erika Williams, she recalled today, “but I just want you to know that if there was any kind of hope I wouldn’t take that away from you. But he’s technically been gone since Monday night.”

It’s still not known why. A scan showed Fennick had swelling in the brain. A spinal tap for meningitis was negative. A toxicology screen for opiates, THC, cocaine, methamphetamines “came out zero,” his mother says. Negative for flu and sexually transmitted diseases as well. Nothing contagious (which had apparently worried inmates.)

“He came in healthy,” Carlos Trivino, Fennick’s uncle, says of Fennick’s last booking at the county jail, on Dec. 28, when Circuit Judge Terence Perkins yanked him out of drug court for failing a urine test. It was positive for cocaine. He’d made it successfully through a year and a half of drug court until then. He was to be in jail until May. “So something happened there,” meaning at the jail, Trivino said. So far, no one can say what. Trivino says it’s worse than neglect.

Saturday morning, the breathing machine will be turned off. There will be an actual time of death. The only reason it hasn’t happened yet is because Fennick’s family implored the hospital’s administration to delay the inevitable a few days so family members could gather.

A moment of prayer in the ICU waiting room, with Anthony's mother, Erika Williams, and her mother, toward the center, and Anthony's uncle Carlos Trivino to the left. (© FlaglerLive)

A moment of prayer in the ICU waiting room, with Anthony’s mother, Erika Williams, and her mother, toward the center, and Anthony’s uncle Carlos Trivino to the left. (© FlaglerLive)

So they have, among them Trivino and his wife Shannon from North Carolina, Trivino’s brother arriving from Colorado early this evening, Anthony’s grandparents from Palm Coast joining what has amounted to a vigil to Anthony’s now-time-certain departure, with Khalief Gray, Anthony’s friend from Drug Court, shuttling other Drug Court friends in and out. They all stream through the ICU’s waiting room or take turns at Anthony’s bedside, leaving it to a giant teddy bear (one of several gifts from hospital staff) to keep a permanent eye on him from the foot of his bed. “We’ve literally had to do traffic control, that’s how many people came to see him,” his mother says.

Three senior sheriff’s officials have dropped by as well: Chief Steve Brandt, who’s in charge of investigations, Chief Mark Strobridge, the sheriff’s right-hand man, and Chief Paul Bovino, currently the acting sheriff, as Rick Staly is in Dubai at a SWAT training competition with eight Flagler deputies. Brandt and Bovino have known Fennick and his family for years, seeing him grow up.

In the waiting room, Erika’s husband Dan cares for Anthony’s two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Eva when she’s not on her iPad. At times small groups huddle and pray, someone will step out for a moment to take a call (better cell reception), and always, at one point or another, the subject of Anthony’s catastrophic degradation from healthy young man to fevered to dazed to brain dead mystery returns. Family members examine the question from any  angle that could shed light on what could possibly have kept the health care providers at the jail from responding to Anthony’s complaints more prudently, and judging on what Fennick had told his parents, less offhandedly.

That’s when Erika Williams isn’t trying to figure out how she will handle Saturday morning.

The sheriff’s office for its part is releasing minimal information: it sought to have the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigate, but FDLE turned down the request, saying the incident did not meet outside-agency criteria, according to Strobridge. The case is being investigated by sheriff’s detectives Gabe Fuentes and Annie Conrad.

Anthony Fennick, center, with his family in Palm Coast: his brother and father, both of whom are called Dan, his mother Ericka Williams, and his daughter Eva. (Williams family)

Anthony Fennick, center, with his family in Palm Coast: his brother and father, both of whom are called Dan, his mother Ericka Williams, and his daughter Eva. (Williams family)

An incident report states that FDLE nevertheless was willing to examine Fennick at the hospital–to check for any signs of physical trauma. That initial incident report reveals that Fennick had been vomiting when he was taken out of the facility at 10:30 p.m. Monday. A second, more detailed report was released late Friday. But it was entirely blacked out but for stray, irrelevant lines.

The sheriff contracts with Armor Correctional Health to provide inmate health care, with 24-hour care at the jail. Erika Williams says nursing staff were dismissive of her son’s concerns other than giving him ibuprofen and an antibiotic, though they wouldn’t tell him what kind of an antibiotic it was, or how many days he’d be taking it. It’s not clear whether they asked him whether he was allergic to anything. (Two nurses have reportedly been removed from their duties at the jail.)

What bothers Williams most isn’t that her son developed a health issue, maybe even a freakish health issue–say, something that developed from one day to the next and quickly got worse without staffers reacting fast enough to address it. No, what bothers her is that she knew, he knew, and she says staffers knew that something had started going wrong with his high fevers either the Tuesday or Wednesday before that fateful Monday. “Nothing can destroy me more than this,” Williams says. She describes her phone conversations with him. “The thing that hurts me is that I personally heard his voice telling me twice a day for those five days of every symptom and every ache and every pain and every response he got when he asked for assistance. I literally listened to my son, how he was deteriorating for five days and he was dying, that’s the part that I can never forgive somebody.”

The phone calls were recorded. They are being examined by detectives, along with video which his parents say will show their son’s deteriorating condition down to his inability to get his jumpsuit on that Monday, he was so dazed. Fennick’s father says it was in his son’s voice: “Toward the end you can hear him say, ‘I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go, I can’t stand up here.'” The calls had gotten shorter and shorter, and earlier and earlier, as if tracing Fennick’s declining strength. He’d usually call a last time as close to 10:30 p.m. as possible, as close to lock-down as possible. But he started needing to sleep sooner.

His mother last heard from him Monday at 2:20 p.m., what would prove to be the very last time she’d hear Anthony’s voice.

Even then, she could not recognize it. “His voice was so weak,” she said. He’d woken up beet red, with a rash. “I told him, ‘don’t worry, I got you, baby,’ I promised him nothing was going to happen to him,” she said this afternoon in the ICU waiting room.

She breaks down for what seems like the thousandth time. Moments later she’s at her son’s bedside, hugging him, stroking his hair, her words caressing his immobility, shaping what she calls his “big head,” with her palms, touching his earlobes. “This is my baby,” she says. “See what I mean about that coconut head? We always made fun of his head, he always had a strong head, strong bone structure.” She cries, hugs her son’s head, strokes his arm. He has a few days’ beard growth. “He wasn’t a bad person, he made stupid mistakes,” his mother says through tears.

“I don’t know what to do, I don’t know where to turn, I don’t know where to start,” she says of what she will have to do Saturday morning. She’s been thinking about his clothes, thinking about putting together some music he likes, thinking about the candlelight vigil getting organized beach-side in a few days.

And there is an irony, a terrible irony in her son’s death Saturday morning and what is to follow. As if it weren’t enough that she couldn’t comprehend losing him with such brutal suddenness, she can comprehend all too well what is to happen to him in the next days: Erika Williams was in the military. She did countless autopsies in the morgue in Richmond, Va. “I know what’s going to happen, my baby is going to be leaving here in a body bag, he’s going to be put in a dark freezer, and stored there ’till they do the autopsy on Monday. I know exactly, stage by stage,” she says. “I know what’s going to happen to my baby, and that’s in the back of my mind.” His “gorgeous bone structure,” she says, going so far as describing what she knew would be done: and that’s what he will be enduring. “So I don’t know, I don’t know how to prepare myself.”

But she finds ways. She speaks of her other son, who’s called Dan like his father: he’s 17, graduating soon from Flagler Palm Coast High School and its fire academy. She speaks of the way both her sons idolized each other, how Anthony will have died without regret at least when it came to Dan: their love and affection for each other never ebbed. At least in that regard, she says, “I know Anthony died at peace.”

Anthony and his mother. (© FlaglerLive)

Anthony and his mother. (© FlaglerLive)

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34 Responses for “Anthony Fennick Will Die Saturday Morning, Days After Degrading at Flagler Jail. Family Awaits Answers.”

  1. Eric says:

    Very sad. Like the countless others,(others that actually have a soul) I find this to be inexcusable to no end. I cannot imagine the pain this family is and will go through for the rest of their lives. Just know that you are not alone. I am sure you will read negative comments on this site, but know that the people that do it are lacking something in their lives. I will pray for this entire family and I will also pray for the people that find it necessary to make negative comments about this young life that will be gone too soon.

  2. Teresa romines says:

    This is heartbreaking, I hope those that refused to show good sense and compassion will be let go from their positions

  3. palmcoaster says:

    Such a sad and terrible but preventable tragedy. My prayers for his mom dad and family.

  4. jim says:

    God Bless and Godspeed

  5. Palmcoast observer says:

    This is so sad and incomprehensible. Someone needs to pay for this misdeed. That’s how a human being gets treated when they are in jail. What good are the nurses. They have to follow the “RULES” that are put upon them and no room for humanity. There definitely needs to be changes made.

  6. RIP says:

    A double law suit for sure. One for the Sheriffs Office and one for the medical staffing agency. So sad. I guess when it’s your time to go it happens no matter what. God has bigger plans for him. Condolences to his family and friends.

  7. Sadness and extremes says:

    This is so sad. Unfortunately, this is the result of a Sheriff who demeans the lives of people who make mistakes. We all have seen how Staly degraded people in jail. They are our neighbors. While the sheriff that you all elected takes a paid vacation to Dabai that we paid for..a man dies. Another man… There is more blood on Staly’s hands.

  8. Mary Dickinson says:

    Terribly Sad…………… Something most definitely is WRONG with THIS situation!!! :(

  9. Jaclyn says:

    What a horrible way for a mother to lose her child! So heartbreaking! Shame on the sheriffs dept for not taking his symptoms seriously just because he’s an inmate does not mean his life didn’t matter! I pray for his mother and family RIP 💙

  10. girl says:

    May he finally rest…. prayers to family and friends..

  11. Again says:

    I honestly hope the family lawyers up ! Inmate or not , no one Deserves to die when it could have possibly been prevented . I’m sure it’s not the first time an incident of “illness” has been brushed off by both deputies and medical staff . I hope this one comes back to bite FCSO in the ass ! And don’t ask us taxpayers for more money for new stations , jails and equipment when this narcotic problem in this county has gotten out of control ! N.E.T team really needs to step it up and be way more proactive with their investigating. Staley needs to be accountable for once and inform the public that something is being done for both ‘tis death investigation and the drug problem in this county !

  12. Susan Sisk says:

    Rest in peace poor baby, prayers are with your family, may God hold you in his hands at this time.

  13. Richard says:

    A very SAD story indeed. I am VERY sorry for his loved ones and friends. I foresee a wrongful death lawsuit coming in the future. Plus a thorough and complete investigation into this so-called medical company and their procedures who are in charge of supporting the medical needs of the prison.

  14. Me says:

    RIP. If I were his Mother I would be in contact with a really good lawyer. Someone in a county jail waiting to appear before a judge, becomes ill why, should they be denied treatment? Why didn’t someone in the jail allow him to seek medical treatment and get him to a hospital sooner? This sounds like a real case of neglect on the part of the Flagler County Sheriffs office.

  15. Michael Cocchiola says:

    I cannot imagine the circumstances under which this is excusable. Where did indifference, even disdain, creep into the sheriff’s department?

  16. Anonymous says:

    So heart broken for this young life, young men’s families loss & sorrow. This should have never been the way a family has to say good bye. This should have never happened. Justice for Anthony Fennick is needed.

  17. lamo says:

    Very sad. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, and friends. Internal investigation, is a joke, and pretty much a slap in the face, to his family. Does anyone truly believe that an honest, and fair investigation will be conducted by FCSO? Staly is too concerned about his political image, to let anything come out of his investigation, that will make him, or his organization, look like they have any problems within. Big lawsuit coming on this one.

  18. Sad state says:

    What a tragic story. This reminds me of the boy who came back from North Korea due to neglect and in humane treatment. The comments circulating about him deserving it because he was in jail are sickening. We are no better than a communist country if this is how we treat our inmates. I hope some charges come from
    this. I am a nurse and can’t imagine letting someone suffer for days. I work with addicts and it is actually common knowledge among them that you pretty much have to die in jail before you get treatment. Society still sees drug addiction as a moral failing and until that mind set shifts, we will continue to see this kind of treatment. When are we going to learn our “war on drugs” and how we have handled it has not worked?

    My condolences to his family. May Anthony now Rest In Peace

  19. Jeff says:

    We will miss you, you did A LOT more good than bad and those that knew you, new how kind you were.

  20. Stretchem says:

    Our county sheriff’s office is in shambles. I hope the family will recover from this and use this to effect change. Morgan and Morgan are standing by.

    With that said, what the holy f@#&! is our sheriff and 8 subordinates doing in Dubai for “swat” training?! How much is that nonsense costing us? Are you kidding me? That must be a typo, please correct.

  21. tulip says:

    I wonder if the family could file a Wrongful Death Suit? It sure seem like it could. If the Sheriff’s people got Anthony immediate help, he might have been okay, instead of a death sentence.

  22. KATHY SCHAFFER says:


  23. Diane Matta says:

    This is so very sad!! The Mom said how when she talked last to her son she had no idea it would be the last time. Someone needs to answer big time as to why his poor health was so ignored. Please dear God help this family through such a painful time, such a cute little girl will never enjoy her Dads love. May he RIP Prayers to his family to ease the pain.

  24. Dee Scott says:

    My heart goes out to this family. What a tragedy all because of medical negligence from the jail staff. And it’s not the first time. Inmates have been suffering for years that get ignored. It’s time the county sheriff Rick replaces the contractor That manages the Medical needs of the inmates. Yeah the sheriff can boost all the time about what a good job his men are doing on the streets and boost about his green roof inn but CANT boost about the jail facility cause the inmates are treated less then Human. His prescription is that they all deserve it. He looks at them all as criminals so they get treated like animals. I hope Anthony’s death is not in vain and some positive results will happen and the inmates can get much better medical care then they have been

  25. So Sad says:

    RIP so very sorry for they family. I know someone else this happened to also, such a horrible thing no one would take care of him Shame on those that actually knew he was sick and they chose to just give him meds clearly he was sick and should of been taken to the hospital before Monday if they did not have a Dr there. What the hell kind of medical staff is working there they can not tell when people are sick and have a fever this is terrible this never should of happened to him.

  26. Robjr says:

    Very sad. Condolences

    What are the chances that anyone will be held criminally responsible?
    Criminal prosecutions are few and far between.

    Federal civil suits have been successful in similar situations.
    Although civil suits do not punish the responsible parties.

  27. Flagler County Citizen says:

    Can this story unfold? I fear that these stories grip the community in a flurry, and then they subside to another story for the community but never for the family. The families suffer in agony of loss, frustration and anger, and we end up forgetting that the story made the front page of our local circulars–the loaded questions never really get answered.

    This is a public travesty. This young man, Anthony, was apparently in a challenging process of recovery and improvement, perhaps caught in a challenging situation of connection to his very barriers to success. We totally failed him and his family, but we can do something by keeping up with this story.

    Addiction grips people of all ages, and this young man, Anthony Fennick, at 23 years old, father of a young child could be the spokesperson for the reality of recovery (it’s tangled up with achievements and relapses, personal connections which offer hope and temptations). The process sometimes involves mistakes, but the person at the center of it is purely human.

    We understand that jail is not intended to be a vacation nor a rehabilitation center. We also understand that recovery involves blood sweat and tears and that violating the steps can not be met with a soft, enabling hand, but in this very case, dignity and humanity should never be questioned. And we have to understand that those violations are sometimes part of the process, while pushing these citizens to forge forward.

    We need to find out how the jail handles these issues.

    In 2016, there was a story about a woman who allegedly called out for medical assistance only to be given CPR post-death in her jail cell. She was not a menace to society, but her addiction was a major challenge for her and is precisely what landed her in jail. The story broke. There was to be an autopsy and an investigation, but those results never came back to the citizens so we could ever learn how the system of justice evolved or if it still needed to be adjusted. I do not believe the family got any answers then.

    In her case,and in Anthony’s case, regardless of whether the medical condition could have inevitably resulted in an unfortunate death, it is absolutely unacceptable to have medical staff make that determination after a person has died. Appropriate timing of medical attention should happen before a person dies in a jail cell or before a person is given a final pronouncement shortly after arrival at the hospital.

    Let’s please let Anthony Fennick change this. Let’s not let this story become un-trendy or out of fashion. For the family, for Anthony and his child, let’s please stick around to see what is changing in his honor.

    Flaglerlive, can we have follow-ups? Can we highlight the results of the investigation and put pressure on our local system to enact changes and to genuinely solve the problem of adequate medical treatment in their fast-paced environment full of true medical needs and potentially questionable ones?

    Can we investigate by communicating with current and past inmates? Let’s please see this one through.

    THANK you most wholeheartedly in advance for taking the time to consider this issue and for reporting on this event.

  28. Judy Fortier says:

    What a horrendous sadness.

  29. Dave says:

    Protest at 1000 Justice Lane? Justice for Anthony!

  30. Kathielee says:

    My heart breaks for his family, friends and his little girl who will never know her daddy . The detention officers and nurses who did nothing to help this young man should be behind bars and treated like he was . I hope they can file a suit against them and win but no amount of money will bring him back .. RIP 🙏🙏

  31. Someone who votes says:

    Sheriff Staly! What are you going to do about it once you get back from your honeymoon in Dubai? No word from you yet. Innocent and I do mean innocent life was lost due to spenditure politics. Family shuttered. Life lost. What if your son made a bad choice and suffered this way? You lead this county in policing. Don’t stay silent too long…

  32. navy vet says:

    First of all I want to say to the Family we are with you in your time of grief and hope you find the answers you need. Second of all, I feel that the State Attorney look at this case to see how charges should be filed, it was neglect by not only by the Officers but the contractor as well and hope to see that it is Homicide for what has occurred. During my time in the military I have seen my fair share of high temperatures in our clients and we were proactive in saving a life. So I hope the family sues both the Flagler County and the Contractor for what they have done and what makes matters worse our Sheriff used tax payers dollars to go to Dubai. I was on deployment and had to cover a staff members that had to go to the Navy base there and it was really expensive to stay at the hotels. So I definitely know the price tag for just going there and staying for a few days. So I do not support the Sheriff and cannot wait till 2020 when we can vote him out of office.

  33. Phyllis Washburn says:

    My heart grieves with this family especially his Mom! This happens all too often I. Jails and prisons across the U.S! Let’s use our voices and demand an investigation. Someone is responsible for the lack of medical care. Our incarcerated loved ones are human beings – people just like you & me! This kind of incidents must stop. Praying for the Lord to cover this family with His comfort and peace.

  34. Jason B says:

    I knew electing a power-mad, publicity-hungry, Joe Arpaio wanna-be, was going to result in mistreatment or death of prisoners, you didn’t need a crystal ball to see this coming.

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