Great Falls News

Jan 17, 2013 6:36 PM by MTN News

Great Falls fire marshall to retire after endangerment charges

GREAT FALLS - The Great Falls Fire Marshall submitted his notice of retirement to city officials on Thursday.

A press release from the deputy city manager notes that Doug Bennyhoffhas more than 26 years of service with the City of Great Falls Fire Rescue, and that his retirement is effective immediately.

Bennyhoff was charged on Jan. 14 with one count of negligent endangerment and five counts of obstructing a peace officer in connection with the death of Orville Jones in September.

Court documents state that Bennyhoff's story to dispatchers, medical responders, and investigators did not correspond with what other witnesses were saying.

According to witness statements, Bennyhoff was attempting to help Jones, who was intoxicated, get across the street to his apartment by pushing him in a Barrel O' Bucks casino chair that had wheels on the legs.

The witnesses say that Jones, who appeared to be passed out, was ejected from the chair and landed on his head.

Court documents state that Bennyhoff and two other people then carried Jones to his apartment.

The other men told investigators that they urged Bennyhoff to call 911 after noticing significant swelling on Jones' head.

During the call, Bennyhoff told the 911 dispatcher that Jones had fallen while walking across the street, and when asked if crews needed to respond "emergent" or if officers were needed.. Bennyhoff replied, "No."

When Great Falls Fire Rescue and Great Falls Emergency Services arrived on scene, Bennyhoff reportedly made no mention of the chair and continued to say that Jones had fallen.

At one point, Bennyhoff changed his story when talking to a fellow firefighter, indicating that Jones' injuries came from falling while in the casino.

Emergency responders at the scene told investigators that knowing exactly how an injury occurred is important to determining treatment.

They also stated the protocol for dealing with this type of injury is to immobilize the patient and call 911 immediately, and that, as Fire Marshal, Bennyhoff is aware of the proper protocol.

Jones died from the injuries on Sep. 21, six days after the incident.


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