TIME Crime

Man Arraigned on Negligent Homicide Charge After Son Dies in Hot Car

Hot Car Death
H John Voorhees III—AP Kyle Seitz, right, of Ridgefield, Conn., stands for arraignment with his attorney John Gulash in Danbury Superior Court in Danbury, Conn., on Nov. 12, 2014

Boy was left in vehicle for over seven hours

A Connecticut man whose 15-month-old son died of hyperthermia after being left in a hot car for hours was arraigned Wednesday on charges of negligent homicide.

MORE: Who’s at fault when a child dies in a hot car?

Thirty-six-year-old Kyle Seitz was free to leave the courtroom, but Superior Court Judge Dan Shaban ordered him to surrender his passport and remain in Connecticut, Reuters reports.

Shaban also ruled that Seitz was to have no unsupervised contact with his two daughters, who are now living with their mother.

Seitz says he had forgotten that he was supposed to take his son Benjamin to day care and did not realize the boy was still in his car seat as he went to work on July 7.

The chief state medical examiner’s office in August said temperatures inside the car that day would have reached 88°F, causing Benjamin to succumb to “hyperthermia due to environmental exposure.”

Seitz is due to reappear in court on Nov. 21.

In the U.S. in 2013, 44 children died of heat stroke in cars, and more than 600 have died since 1998.

[Reuters]

TIME People

Sugarhill Gang Rapper ‘Big Bank Hank’ Dies at 57

Justin Timberlake And Friends Old School Jam Benefiting Shriners Hospitals For Children
Isaac Brekken—WireImage Sugarhill Gang's Henry 'Big Bank Hank' Jackson performs during the Justin Timberlake and Friends Old School Jam concert in 2011

He died of kidney complications due to cancer, his manager said

Henry “Big Bank Hank” Jackson of the Sugarhill Gang died early Tuesday from kidney complications due to cancer, his manager said. He was 57.

“[Sugarhill Gang’s Wonder Mike and Master Gee] had been in contact with him in the past year,” manager David Mallie told FOX411. “They had some great times and created history.”

“So sad to hear of our brother’s passing. Rest in peace Big Bank,” the two remaining members of the group said.

Sugarhill Gang is best known for its 1979 hit “Rapper’s Delight.” Other members of the rap community posted remembrances of Big Bank Hank on social media:

[FOX]

TIME NFL

Former NFL Player Orlando Thomas Dies Of Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Minnesota Vikings v Tennessee Oilers
Joe Robbins—Getty Images Orlando Thomas #42 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on against the Tennessee Oilers at Vanderbilt Stadium on December 26, 1998 in Nashville, Tennessee.

The former Minnesota Vikings safety first revealed he had the disease in 2007

Former NFL player Orlando Thomas died in Louisiana on Monday after succumbing to Lou Gehrig’s Disease, his agent told Bloomberg.

The 42-year-old former Minnesota Vikings safety had revealed in 2007 that he was battling the disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and named after the former New York Yankees star who died of it in 1941.

“If there was ever a test to strip your fight, courage and toughness and make you wallow in self-pity, this would be the disease and yet he was so incredible in his fight and never once made it about him,” said Thomas’ agent Mark Bartelstein.

Thomas spent seven seasons with the Vikings after joining as a second round draft pick in 1995, and notched up 22 interceptions during his career before retiring in 2001.

[Bloomberg]

TIME Autos

Air Bag Manufacturer Behind Recalls Hid Flunked Safety-Test Results: Reports

A security guard stands by child seats, manufactured and displayed by Takata Corp. at a Toyota showroom in Tokyo, Nov. 6, 2014.
Shizuo Kambayashi—AP A security guard stands by child seats, manufactured and displayed by Takata Corp. at a Toyota showroom in Tokyo, Nov. 6, 2014.

The tests showed that Takata air bags could rupture, but the company waited four years to report the problem

Under-fire Japanese air bag manufacturer Takata reportedly hid the results of 2004 tests that revealed their products could rupture and cause injury or death.

Technicians involved in the secret testing of 50 Takata air bags were ordered to delete the data from their computers and dispose of the air bags used, two employees revealed to the New York Times.

The manufacturer reportedly only revealed the problems to regulators four years later.

Faulty air bags produced by the Tokyo-based firm have since led to the recalls of more than 14 million automobiles worldwide.

Read more at the New York Times.

TIME space travel

Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson Says the Risk of Space Tourism ‘Is Worth It’

And he's confirmed that he will be the first passenger on Virgin Galactic’s maiden flight

Despite the crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo during a test flight Friday, killing co-pilot Michael Alsbury, the company’s founder Richard Branson says, “the risk is worth it.”

“Mike would have been the first to say that,” Branson told CNN Monday. “Test pilots would say that because they know the risk they’re taking, they know the importance of what they’re doing, we know the importance of what we’re doing.”

And the British entrepreneur confirmed that he would still be the first passenger on Virgin Galactic’s maiden space tourism flight.

“There is no way I would ask others to go on a Virgin Galactic flight if I didn’t feel it was safe enough for myself,” he said.

A spot on the flight will cost $250,000, and 800 passengers have already signed up to join Branson in becoming the world’s first space tourists. Branson said two more people signed up Friday to support the program after the fatal crash.

[CNN]

MONEY Ask the Expert

How To Pick a Pro to Manage Your Money When You’re Gone

140605_AskExpert_illo
Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: Are there professional administrator services for private wills? I’m single with no family or appropriate friends. – Paul, Calif.

A: Everyone needs a person or institution to act as executor and administer the estate though the probate process.

Because your executor will be in charge of collecting the estate’s assets, inventorying the property, paying claims against the estate (including taxes), and distributing assets to beneficiaries, you want to give the job to someone who is financially responsible and trustworthy.

That could be someone you know, say a relative or close friend, but it can also be an institution, or what you referred to as a professional will administrator.

Because of the complexity involved, many individual executors have to hire professionals to help. So even if you do have someone close to you take on the role, having a reliable and impartial professional as backup would be smart.

How to find the right pro

You could name your lawyer, accountant, or financial adviser as your executor, but Greg Sellers, a certified public accountant and president of the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils, warns against it, no matter how good a working relationship you already have.

“If your executor is also the one drafting your estate planning documents, there is the opportunity for them to do some self-dealing,” says Sellers. “While they may be legally bound to carry out your wishes, it presents a chance for conflicting interests. They could have undue influence on the documents, could charge higher than normal fees.” And acting as an executor may not be in the normal scope of what your accountant and financial adviser do.

Sellers recommends using a corporate trust company, either one affiliated with a financial institution like your bank or full-service brokerage, or an independent trust company. These companies have teams that manage estates full time. You don’t need a trust to use a trust company; they take on jobs just handling will administration.

What a pro will charge

Of course, hiring a professional will mean paying a fee (leaving a little less for your heirs). Some states set maximums that an executor can charge, but Sellers says that except in rare circumstances, executor fees should not go above 5% of the value of the estate.

The fee will likely land on the high end of the scale if your estate has lots of moving parts, such as a small business, personal property that needs to be sold, or investment accounts in more than one place. The total value of your assets matters too: the larger the estate, the smaller the percentage a professional executor will deduct.

This one-time fee will be paid from your estate after your death and is typically non-negotiable, Sellers says. While companies are upfront about the likely fees, they will not settle on an amount until they find out exactly what being executor involves, which can’t be known until your death.

Once you’ve settled on a company to be you executor, Sellers recommends letting it know and sending a copy of your will (though it isn’t necessary—you can simply note who you picked in your will).

Any company has the right to reject the job, which is why Sellers recommends naming a backup. If both your first and second choices reject the job, the probate court will assign an executor.

TIME Culture

See Which States Allow Assisted Suicide

Brittany Maynard was one of hundreds of people in five states who've taken advantage of death with dignity laws

Few issues are more personal—or divisive—than ending a life with a doctor’s lethal prescription.

The issue has sparked national debate recently, after Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman who had terminal brain cancer, went public with her decision to end her own life. She did so on Saturday in Oregon.

Maynard is one of more than 750 people in Oregon who have ingested a lethal dose of prescription medication since the Death with Dignity Act went into effect in 1997. While Oregon has had increased participation over the last 16 years and has spurred similar legislation in other states, aid-in-dying laws remain a lightning rod of contention and deliberation.

Advocates say competent patients should have a right to choose how they die if they are already in the process of dying from a terminal illness. Opponents counter that such a precedent is ripe for abuse.

The battle has been shaped over many years. In the 1990s, Jack Kevorkian assisted in the deaths of more than a hundred terminally ill people to much public outcry. In 2009, politicians sparred over a provision in the Affordable Care Act concerning end-of-life consultations – called “death panels” by critics – to help control health-care costs. (Roughly 28%, or $170 billion, of Medicare is spent on patients’ last six months of life, according to Medicare Newsgroup.)

Here is how aid-in-dying laws look today, and a snapshot of the ways in which they are implemented:

dignity

TIME Out There

Stiffs, Skulls and Skeletons: Images of the Darker Side of Life

Portraits of dead people used to form an integral part of the grieving process. Today, these images are taboo, but not for Stanley and Elizabeth Burns, who have amassed more than one million images that present a darker side of life

In the 19th Century, posing with and taking photographs of dead loved ones was a common occurrence, allowing people to have a keepsake of their departed family members. Today, this cultural phenomenon has all but disappeared. “During the early 20th Century, death was removed from everyday life and dead bodies were removed from personal photographs,” says Stanley B. Burns MD, an ophthalmologist, collector, historian and founder of The Burns Archive.

Over the last 40 years, Burns, aided by his daughter Elizabeth, has gathered more than a million images of the darker side of life: disease, war, disaster, crime, racism, revolution and, yes, death, creating the world’s largest private collection of such photographs.

In a new photo book, Stiffs, Skulls & Skeletons: Medical Photography and Symbolism, due to be released in January 2015, the Burns have brought together 450 photographs that reveal the 19th Century’s fascination with body parts and the skeleton. “[The book] is the first comprehensive visual analysis of the use of skeletons, bodies and body parts,” says Burns. “The skull is the most significant and time-honored prop for self-validation in a profession. The physician, the actor, the scientist, the explorer, the holy man, and the warrior all pose with skulls to convey accomplishment and status. In these images, the attitude of those posing with body parts changes over time, as each generation acquired new knowledge and approached the sanctity of the body with new cultural considerations.”

The final selection of images goes beyond the classic visual iconography of postmortem, dissection and bone photography, it also includes early autopsy images and X-ray studies. These photographs, says Burns, provide clear evidence of how our society has changed. “Many cultural phenomena disappear from collective memory, as changing cultural taboos dictate the past be hidden.” But, they are also “beautiful examples of the art of photography and its ability to portray unpleasant subject matter artistically.”


Stiffs, Skulls & Skeletons: Medical Photography and Symbolism will be published in January 2015.

Paul Moakley is TIME’s Deputy Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent


TIME medicine

The Right—and Right Time—to Die: How Doctors Should Help

Jauhar is a cardiologist and the author of Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician.

I've tried to fight a patient's inevitable death, but I know that's not always the best care—and America needs to talk about what is

As doctors, we are expected to prolong human life, and we do—but often regardless of the costs. Brittany Maynard, the 28-year-old Oregon woman with an inoperable brain tumor, puts a human face on this tragedy. Maynard has decided that she does not want to suffer through a painful, protracted death and is planning to end her life with doctor-prescribed pills, obtained through Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act; she may have died by the time you read this. In Oregon, more than 1,100 people have obtained life-ending prescriptions since the law’s passage in 1997, and about 750 have used them safely and appropriately. By numerous accounts, the law has been a success. And yet many doctors, not to mention laymen, continue to regard its goals with suspicion. I have been one of those doctors.

I once cared for an 88-year-old patient with a severely leaky heart valve. When she was hospitalized with worsening kidney and heart failure, a critical-care specialist decided to forgo aggressive treatment. But unwilling to give up, and against my better judgment, I transferred her to the cardiac intensive-care unit. Her stay there was a disaster. She was unable to be weaned from a respirator. Her liver failed. Even as it became clear to me that she was going to die and that my interventions had been for no good purpose, I became very reluctant to change course. We checked blood tests several times per day. I inserted a pressure catheter in her pulmonary artery to monitor her hemodynamics. I started her on dialysis. The breathing tube remained in her throat till the end. Eventually she succumbed to multi-system organ failure and sepsis, nearly a week after I’d moved her to the ICU.

At their core, my actions were a kind of deception—convincing myself, despite the evidence, that I could save my patient and stay the inexorable course of her disease. Perhaps I was embarrassed by my impotence or afraid to see a beloved patient pass. I don’t know. But it was the kind of deception that many in my profession practice.

Of course, it isn’t only doctors who medicalize the terminal phase of life. Patients and their families do too. I once took care of a middle-aged man in the ICU who’d had a cardiac arrest and ended up with significant brain damage because he had been out so long. His wife would not accept the terminal nature of his condition. “He is going to pull out of this,” she told me adamantly. When I asked if her husband had ever expressed any preferences about being on life support, she told me what I expected: they had never discussed it.

That conversation is often the crux of the problem. Most people never have it, thus families and doctors are left to substitute their own judgments and prejudices for those of the patient. What does a dying patient want? What is the minimum quality of life that is acceptable to him or her? As Maynard has so poignantly shown us, these are questions we need to ask before it is too late. And it’s not just families who need to have the tough talk. As a nation, we need to rethink our approach to dying and death. Our reluctance to confront mortality is the cause of too much suffering.

Most Americans die in a hospital or a nursing home. Almost one-third of the $554 billion we spent on Medicare in 2011 was used to treat people in the last six months of their lives. Nearly every colleague I’ve talked to recognizes that this wastes precious resources and prolongs suffering. But they—I—have not been taught a different way.

Hospice is one alternative. The modern hospice movement started in 1967, when Dame Cicely Saunders, a nurse, opened St. Christopher’s Hospice in London. Saunders formulated three principles for easing the process of dying: relief of physical pain, preservation of dignity, and respect for the psychological and spiritual aspects of death. Though it’s been slow, progress has been made. The number of American hospitals offering palliative care has nearly doubled since 2000, growing to nearly 1,500 programs—the majority of hospitals. Yet even as reflective an observer as Atul Gawande admits in his new book, speaking no doubt for the majority of physicians, “The picture I had of hospice was a morphine drip.”

Doctors witness death and dying nearly every day. Disease may win in the end, but we must strive to never lose sight of the patient at the center of it all, and we must empower our patients to make their own decisions in the terminal phase of their lives. Maynard’s terrible tale reminds me of what an elderly woman with terminal heart disease once told me: “My husband said the hardest thing to do is to die; I always thought it would be easy.”

 

Jauhar is a cardiologist and the author of two books, Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation and the recently published Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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