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Paramedic found guilty of negligence in children’s death in Karelia but penalty deferred

April 04, 18:40 UTC+3 PETROZAVODSK

The sentence has been set aside until the paramedic’s daughter born in May 2006 reaches full legal age of 14

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Irina Shcherbakova (right)

Irina Shcherbakova (right)

© Igor Lukianov/TASS

PETROZAVODSK, April 4. /TASS/. Suoyarvi’s district court in Russia’s northwestern republic of Karelia has found Irina Shcherbakova, a paramedic from a local hospital, guilty of the death of 14 children who drowned in Lake Syamozero last summer as she ignored an emergency call from one of the children, thinking it was a joke.

Shcherbakova was sentenced to a term of three years in a penal colony on charges of negligence entailing death of two or more persons. The sentence however has been set aside until Shcherbakova’s daughter born in May 2006 reaches full legal age of 14, a TASS correspondent reported from the court.

According to investigators, on June 18, 2016, a 12-year-old boy called the Suoyarvi hospital for help as he and other children were drowning in the lake. Shcherbakova, who was on duty at the time, ignored the call and did not inform the rescue services, or the hospital’s administration of the ongoing calamity. Hence, the rescue operation was delayed leading to the death of the children.

Earlier, a source in the republic’s health ministry said Shcherbakova had assumed the call was a prank. At court, she admitted her guilt partially and refused to testify.

The tragedy occurred on Lake Syamozero on June 18. Forty-seven children and four adults aged 17-19 from the Park Hotel Syamozero summer camp in Karelia went on a boat trip. The boats turned over when a storm broke out on the lake. Fourteen children and one adult instructor died. Russia’s Investigative Committee opened criminal cases over the fatal incident. Park Hotel Syamozero director Elena Reshetova and the camp’s director Vadim Vinogradov were arrested, former chief of the republic’s department of Russia’s consumer rights watchdog Rospoterbnadzor Anatoly Kovalenko was placed under home arrest, the camp’s instructor Valery Krupodershchikov was released under a written pledge not to leave the locality.

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