With his family at his bedside, Bobby “Pete” Hullett was pronounced dead at 6:32 PM on November 26, 2008, the day before Thanksgiving.
Two days later, Pete’s blood cultures were finalized as positive for Salmonella. In his “Death Summary,” of November 26, Dr. Kaariainen included the following diagnoses at death:
1. Multifactorial shock including cardiogenic shock, septic shock and hypovolemic shock
2. Respiratory failure with ventilator support and significant difficulty Inadequate oxygenation despite 100% FI02 saturation settings on the ventilator
3. Large acute myocardial infarction, troponin peaking at 45
4. Acute liver failure from shocked liver
5. Severe oligo-anuric acute renal failure from acute tubular necrosis from shock
6. Severe underlying metabolic acidosis including lactic acidosis, suspected likely ischemic colitis
7. Ongoing upper gastrointestinal bleeding with anemia
10. Multiple other medical comorbidities contributing as noted In the admission history and physical
Dr. Kaariainen commented, “He was felt to be in shock from a multifactorial etiology including cardiogenic shock from his acute MI, hypovolemic shock from diarrhea and dehydration, as well as probable sepsis from an intra-abdominal source given his severe unresponsive metabolic acidosis and lactic acidosis.”
On December 23, 2008, Pete’s stool culture that had been collected on November 25, 2008 was issued the final result: positive result: SALMONELLA TYPHIMURIUM – HEAVY GROWTH.
Mr. Hullett consumed Austin-brand peanut butter crackers on a near-daily basis in the days leading up to the onset of his illness in November 2008. The crackers were purchased as a local Food Lion grocery. He began to suffer from symptoms consistent with a Salmonella infection around November 23, 2008, and a stool sample submitted on November 25, 2008 confirmed his Salmonella infection. Also, a blood sample collected on November 24, 2011 cultured positive growth of gram negative rods, confirming that bacteria was in his blood stream.
Further testing revealed that he had been infected with Salmonella serotype Typhimurium. Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) fingerprinting of the bacterial isolate revealed a genetic match to the pattern linked to the nationwide outbreak strain of Salmonella associated with contaminated PCA peanut product used by Kellogg Company in the manufacture of its peanut butter crackers. The CDC would confirm 714 sick and 9 deaths in nearly every state.
Pete’s death has devastated his wife Shirley. As Tony his son observes:
Since Pete’s death she has had it rough financially and she cannot maintain the house or the car. She needs someone to depend on to do these things for her. She is really worried about her future. My mother talks and grieves for Pete with every breath she takes.
Not only was his death unexpected, but Shirley lost her companion and helpmate. After two years, Shirley’s loss is still raw:
I live alone and it is very lonely. For two years I have sat alone and cried with his dog he left behind, as well as the memories left in my heart and soul. I have suffered for two years, as well as my family. Holidays are unbearable to see my family gathered around laughing and her I am dying inside. I will never get over my husband’s death, all I have now is memories and pictures to remind me of a death that could have been prevented.
I wonder what Stewart Parnell is doing tonight? I wonder what the United States Attorney is doing tommorrow?