BANDERA – The family of a retired Air Force veteran who died at Bandera Medical Center in 2020 has filed a lawsuit for wrongful death, accusing the facility of failing to prevent the incident.
Gabriel Vasnuk, a retired technical sergeant who was released on medical grounds after serving in the Air Force from 2000 to 2015, died at the Warriors Heart property in October 2020, about a week before he was scheduled to complete inpatient treatment in the extensive Bandera Ranch.
The treatment center offers services for military members, veterans and first aid personnel seeking treatment for problems ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to chemical dependence.
Vasnuk, a 39-year-old Purple Heart winner and Bronze Star, has been receiving care at the restaurant since August this year for what his family’s lawyer describes as “post-implementation problems.”
Vasnuk’s body was found on a concrete slab at the bottom of 30-foot water towers.
Bandera County Sheriff’s Investigators later determined that Vasnuk may have climbed one of the towers and then escaped from a condensate-covered tank. Traces of green paint on the bottom of Vasnuk’s shoes matched the paint on the tower, according to a report from the sheriff’s office.
Photographs from the scene obtained by Defenders show that the stairs to access the towers were right off the ground and that the protective panels that would prevent anyone from climbing the towers were unlocked.
Sheriff’s investigators described the case as an accidental death. In December 2020, a medical examiner ruled that Vasnuk’s death was an accident caused by blunt force injuries, the records said.
“Gabriel was a great man. Everyone we’ve talked to about him (says) that he was an amazing person and had a huge impact on everyone’s life, “said Jesse Pavelek, a lawyer representing Vasnuk’s family.
She said Vasnuk had served three times as head of an explosives team in Iraq and Afghanistan, suffering multiple head injuries (TBI) before receiving medical discharge from the military. Photos shared with Defenders show that Wasnuk had a protruding scar on the side of his head.
Pavelek objected to what she described as Warriors Heart’s refusal to go public and say Wasnuk had not taken his own life.
According to a report from the sheriff’s office, scars on the top of the tower indicate that Vasnuk tried to catch himself before falling.
Investigators who searched Vasnuk’s room at Warriors Heart after his death found no signs of dishonesty and did not find a suicide note, the sheriff’s report said.
Pavelek said Vasnuk, who lived in New Braunfels before seeking treatment, had plans to move to Colorado after leaving the facility.
Two of the last people to see Wasnuk alive, a staff member and his fellow patient, told investigators that Wasnuk was operating normally hours before his death and simply complained that he had trouble sleeping.
A spokeswoman for Warriors Heart declined to comment on the story, citing a pending lawsuit.
Stairs cut after Vasnuk’s death
Footage taken by Sky 12 late last month shows that the stairs of the water towers have been drastically shortened and no longer look accessible to people behind the reservoirs.
“I think it was very preventable,” Pavelek said.
The Warriors Heart lawsuit seeks up to $ 1 million in damages and accuses the facility of gross negligence by failing to prevent Vasnuk from dying while he was on their property.
Pavelek did not have a timeline for when the case will go to trial, and said it is currently being opened.
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Bandera’s treatment center sues after fatal fall of Air Force vet from water tower
Source link Bandera’s treatment center sues after fatal fall of Air Force vet from water tower