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‘I can’t believe this happened’: Tyler nurse’s co-worker testifies about patient’s decline before death

Day 2 of the William Davis trial gets underway.
Day 2 of the William Davis trial gets underway.((Source: KLTV))
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 9:21 AM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The second day of the trial of William Davis, the former nurse accused of killing patients during his time working at CHRISTUS’ Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital in Tyler, got underway Wednesday.

Davis’s former co-worker described to the jury the night he left to take a lunch break and returned to find his patient crashing.

“I mean I trusted him to take care, to watch my patient,” said CHRISTUS nurse Ben Rasberry.

Trust in his co-worker is what Rasberry said made him feel comfortable enough to leave his patient, Chris Greenaway, in the care of then-nurse William Davis.

On August 4, 2017, around 3:15 am, Rasberry said he left the hospital to go down the street to pick up lunch at Whataburger. When he returned about 20 minutes later, his patient’s situation had completely changed.

“So I come in through the basement and I’m walking down the hall and I’m about to push the button for the elevator and I hear code 44 heart hospital room 302 and I’m thinking, what? That’s my patient,” Rasberry said.

Rasberry said Greenaway was crashing. He says his heart rate and blood pressure had increased and was showing symptoms of a stroke. Rasberry said the team of nurses worked fast to try to stabilize Greenaway.

“I do remember Will was in there and I said ‘Dude, what happened? I was gone for like 20 minutes! What happened?’ and he said ‘I don’t know, his blood pressure went high’ and I thought this is, this is crazy. I can’t believe this happened,” he said.

The defense later questioned Rasberry about whether this could’ve been the result of human error.

“And if for some reason you miss air, then it’s gonna line up in the arterial line?” Defense attorney Phillip Hayes asked Rasberry.

“Yeah, but you shouldn’t be missing air,” Rasberry responded.

“I’m not disagreeing with you,” Hayes said.

“Oh, yes, but if you missed it, it would be in the line,” Rasberry said.

William Davis sat quietly as his former co-worker said he believes this was not the result of an accident.

“And you get air in the arterial line..,” said Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman.

“Accidentally? No, no. You have to physically, I mean manually inject that air,” Rasberry said.

As Chris Greenaway’s condition worsened, Rasberry says he felt that he let his coworkers and patient down. He says he never expected to return from his lunch break to find his patient in failing health.

“It hurts my pride because like I said, I do take pride in what I do and how I care for patients and how closely I watch them,” Rasberry said.

Chris Greenaway died two days later on August 6. He was 47-years-old.

Rasberry, who still works as a nurse at CHRISTUS, says since Davis’ arrest, there have been no similar cases where alarming amounts of air was found in patients’ arterial lines.

4:22 p.m. - The prosecution calls up another witness, Steven Yoder, an anesthesiologist at CHRISTUS who worked with Kalina.

He said Kalina was hemodynamically stable throughout heart surgery. There was no hypertension during procedure. Vital signs and respiratory function was in the normal range. He recovered mental status post operation and his pain controlled. His cardiovascular function and hydration status was also stable.

3:46 p.m. - The prosecution called on Jeanette Kalina, the wife of Joseph Kalina.

She said her husband was a truck driver for 25 years. He was very proud of that CDL and protective of it.

“My husband was old school. He was the provider for the family,” she said.

She said she and her husband were married for 37 years.

“He was a good man. He just wanted to take care of me and his family and he did the best that he could,” she said.

She said when she saw her husband in the hospital before he died, “I felt the man I knew was gone. It was a feeling I’ll never forget,” she said. “He wasn’t dead, but after our 37 years together he was a different man.”

3:04 p.m. - Enriquez said he thinks it is very unlikely that amount of air being introduced to the brain would be accidental.

2:36 p.m. - Another witness,, Tyler radiologist Jose Enriquez who viewed Greenaway’s CT scans, said he was shocked to see the images on the CT scan.

“As soon as I pulled it up and started to scroll I quickly realized this was one of cases where it was a shock to see those images. All the curse words I knew were coming up my head. You knew something bad had happened. The reason such a shock, a substantial amount of air in a location that should have none,” he said.

2:26 p.m. - Before being dismissed, Rasberry affirmed that Joseph Kalina’s stats were normal and showed no signs of distress 20 minutes before his condition deteriorated.

11:40 a.m. - Defense attorney Phillip Hayes asks Rasberry about errors in the hospital. Were nurses prone to make them? Were nurses accustomed to doing things on a very regular basis that could result in error? Rasberry says mistakes didn’t and shouldn’t happen often.

After Joseph Kalina’s death, Rasberry said he agreed to meet with Tyler police. After this statement, the defense ended questioning of Rasberry. The prosecution then continued questioning Rasberry.

11:07 a.m. - After returning from a break, the defense questioned Rasberry.

Rasberry discussed what kind of medical issue would set off a hospital alarm. Defense attorney Phillip Hayes asked what kind of age demographics suffer from heart disease.

10:25 a.m. - In the early morning hours of Jan. 25, 2018, nurses hear an alarm go off in Kalina’s room.

A nurse told Rasberry that Kalina’s heart rate is in the 40s.

“Mr. Kalina, wake up! wake up!” Rasberry said to Kalina. Kalina did not respond. Rasberry and the other nurse rushed to improve his diminishing condition. Rasberry was again disappointed in himself that Kalina’s condition got so bad.

10:02 a.m. - Greenaway’s heart rate, blood pressure increased around 3:35am (Aug 4, 2017). He was given medication to help bring down his blood pressure. He was showing signs of having a stroke.

Greenaway was taken to get a CT scan and was told there was air in his brain.

Rasberry testified about another suspected victim of Davis, Joseph Kalina. On January 24 and 25 of 2018, Rasberry says Kalina was stable after surgery and was on a bipap machine.

9:41 a.m. - Greenaway asked for water several times. He was stable. Everything looked good. At 3 a.m. on Aug. 4, 2017, Greenaway was still doing fine.

Rasberry said he asked “Will” (William Davis) to keep an eye on Greenaway while Rasberry went to lunch around 3:15 a.m. Rasberry said “Will” liked to talk a lot and walk around the unit a lot. He was very chatty and social. Rasberry says Davis was a good ICU nurse and he trusted him to take care of his own patients.

Rasberry planned to run to Whataburger on Beckham for lunch. When he arrived back at the hospital, he hears a message go off saying his patient (Greenaway) is going into cardiac arrest. Rasberry got up to the cardiovascular floor. Greenaway still had a pulse.

“Dude, what happened?” Rasberry asked Davis. Davis said he didn’t know.

Rasberry was “mad” patient took a turn for the worst while he was gone. Rasberry said he felt responsible, like he was letting people down.

9:21 a.m. - Rasberry said family members are not allowed to stay the first night at the hospital after a surgery. He says this is because in the event something goes wrong, they want to be able to monitor the patient without having family in the way.

Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman brought up Chris Greenaway, who Rasberry treated. When Greenaway was assessed at 7 p.m. Aug. 3, 2017, (this is after his heart surgery) no problems were indicated.

The trial of William Davis, the former East Texas nurse who is accused of killing patients, entered it’s second day Wednesday.

William George Davis (Source: Smith County judicial records)
William George Davis (Source: Smith County judicial records)

William Davis, 37, of Hallsville, is accused of injecting air into the arterial lines of patients at a Tyler heart hospital, killing at least two people and injuring several others. Davis was arrested in April 2018. At the time, he was a registered nurse at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler.

The prosecution continued to call witnesses Wednesday morning. Ben Rasberry, a nightside nurse at CHRISTUS, discussed how shift transfers work between day and night nurses.

The prosecution asked about how patients are typically feeling and how long they sleep after surgery. They also asked about the layout of the hospital. Rasberry identified where patients rooms and worker break rooms are while the prosecution held up a large map of the cardiovascular floor.

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