A hospital patient violently attacked a nurse who was 32 weeks pregnant, shoved her into a wall and repeatedly attempted to kick her, ultimately causing the death of her unborn baby, law enforcement authorities in Central Florida allege.
Joseph Wuerz, 53, of Casselberry, was taken into custody Tuesday and charged with one count each of aggravated battery against a victim he should have known was pregnant, aggravated battery on a first responder, and manslaughter of an unborn child by injury to the mother, online records show.
According to an arrest affidavit obtained by The Washington Post, the nurse, whose name is not being reported, was in a private room treating a female patient in the behavioral health unit of Orlando Health South Seminole Hospital on Saturday when the woman suddenly began screaming. Apparently attracted by melee, Wuerz reportedly entered the same room and went after the treating nurse, “shoved her” up against a wall inside the room and made several attempts to kick her.
An arrest affidavit filed by the Longwood Police Department stated that it took several members of the hospital’s staff and security to pull Wuerz off of the nurse, per a report from The Orlando Sentinel. The nurse said Wuerz did not say a single word throughout the duration of the brief attack.
While none of Wuerz’s multiple kicks reportedly connected with the pregnant nurse, the police affidavit reportedly stated she told police that she was “terrified and shocked and unsure about injury to the unborn child.” The nurse also informed police that Wuerz was not one of the patients that she treated.
Following the attack, personnel with Emergency Medical Services transported the nurse to Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando. Doctors performed a series of tests and informed her that the fetus no longer had a heartbeat.
The nurse reportedly told investigators that prior to Tuesday’s attack, her unborn child had been healthy and her pregnancy had been progressing normally. Police reportedly said the nurse “believes the stress she was under during the attack may have caused her unborn child’s death.”
The New York Daily News reported that Wuerz had previously been arrested on two occasions in relation to incidents of domestic violence.
A similar situation unfolded in Pennsylvania on Sunday when a pregnant nurse working in the mental health unit Geisinger Community Medical Center was violently attacked by a patient.
Elizabeth Young, 19, reportedly came up behind the “visibly pregnant” woman and punched her in the face and kneed her in the stomach, according to a report from Scranton CBS affiliate WBRE-TV. Young reportedly attacked a second nurse approximately an hour later before security was able to restrain her. The pregnant nurse was reportedly taken for an ultrasound to check on her unborn child, but police have not released any information about the condition of the fetus or the nurse.
Young was reportedly charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, disorderly conduct, and harassment.
[image via Seminole County Sheriff’s Office]
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