Teen in coma caught in legal fight
RALEIGH (WTVD) -- A teenage boy who's in a coma at WakeMed is at the center of a legal fight in Wake County.
Freddie Lempe, 18, has been unconscious for more than a year after he suffered a brain injury in a rollover wreck on Highway 39 in Johnston County in March 2011.
"You get the call that every parent just doesn't want to hear," said Fred Lempe, Freddie's father.
Troopers said the driver of the car Freddie was a passenger in was speeding, and lost control of her car in wet weather. She walked away from the crash, but Freddie did not.
"We've really leaned on God a lot and put our faith in him," said Lempe. "It's just been a very, very tough year."
Medicaid for Freddie has been denied and his medical bills are mounting. The total is in the millions so far. Now, there's a battle brewing over who will decide what's best for Freddie.
"WakeMed has filed paperwork with the Wake County Courthouse to take guardianship from me and make Freddie a ward of the state," said Lempe.
Documents show a caseworker with WakeMed filed a motion to modify guardianship, saying that Freddie's father had "not followed through with his financial responsibilities," and that there had been an investigation of his son's case and that Lempe had not accounted for money spent.
Lempe said that's simply not true.
"That's a good question, why would they want to do it," asked Lempe. "It just seems like there's been a turn in the tide."
The family has taken to Facebook to ask for divine intervention. There's a petition asking for support which hundreds have signed.
WakeMed told ABC11 they were "very limited" on what they could say about Freddie's case due to HIPAA, but they did say he will continue to receive excellent care.
"We are committed to providing exceptional care to all of our patients and feel confident that Freddie is receiving and has received excellent care as a patient at WakeMed," a spokesperson with WakeMed Health & Hospitals said. "The petition for guardianship and the court proceeding truly has nothing to do with the care Freddie has received and will continue to receive regardless of the judge's decision. We are simply taking steps to secure financial resources for Freddie through Medicaid which should be available to him for his care."
A hearing Tuesday at the Wake County Courthouse to decide what is best for Freddie was continued to the end of July.
johnston county, wake county, local/state, kelli o'hara
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