A troubled teenager who received a controversial heart transplant less than two years ago died Tuesday after he lost control of his car during a high-speed chase with Roswell police.
Anthony Stokes, 17, of Decatur, was also a suspect in a failed burglary and a carjacking, which police believe were linked to the fatal crash of the black Honda Accord on Ga 9, Officer Lisa Holland said.
Stokes made international news in August 2013 after the media reported that Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston had not put him on a transplant list. The hospital ruled he was a bad candidate for the organ because of his background that suggested he would be “uncompliant” in treatment and had brushes with the law.
His mother, Melencia Hamilton, then told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that hospital officials stereotyped her son, who wore a court-ordered monitoring device, as a troubled teen.
“It just seemed they decided he’s a troublemaker, and that’s not true,” she said in August 2013.
Attempts to reach Hamilton for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Stokes suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, in which the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, fails to pump enough blood.
People who receive transplants must adhere to strict medication regimens to keep their bodies from rejecting the organs. A person can be disqualified if hospital officials think the patient won’t stick to that regimen, has no support system or an inability to pay for expensive anti-rejection medicines.
At the time Stokes was diagnosed, doctors said he would die within six to nine months without a transplant, Hamilton said. The hospital reversed course and Stokes received a heart after his mother and critics from civil rights organizations contended he was denied the heart because he was poor, black and had trouble with the law, which his mother said was for fighting.
Channel 2 Action News reported Tuesday night that it had confirmed that Stokes was the same Anthony Stokes who died after fleeing police following a carjacking and a burglary. An elderly Roswell woman told the news station Stokes shot at her — pointing to bullet holes in her walls — after he kicked in her door and found her inside watching television.
His Facebook page had pictures of him showing off a pistol, the news station reported.
The Honda was reported carjacked in Dunwoody, Holland said. Police responding to a burglary call on Alpine Drive spotted it and pursued after noting it matched the description of the car that fled the burglary scene, Holland said. Stokes crashed while approaching Hembree Road.
He clipped a car in the intersection and then jumped the curb and hit a pedestrian before colliding with a SunTrust Bank sign, Holland said.
“He lost control and there was a long set of skid marks,” she said.
The driver of the other car was uninjured, the injured pedestrian was doing well at the scene, Holland said. Stokes died after rescue workers cut him out of Honda, Holland said.
The pedestrian, 33-year-old Clementina Hernandez, is stable and in good condition in North Fulton Hospital, Lindsey Harber, spokeswoman North Fulton Hospital, told Channel 2.
Police are still trying to connect the car to the burglary, which occurred a couple of minutes before the car chase, Holland said.
Police aren’t sure whether a gun was fired, Holland said. The burglar fled in a black car.
“We haven’t really connected that he was the person who did the burglary,” she said. “He may have been running from something else.”
The crash is being investigated by the Georgia State Patrol.
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