ROSWELL, Ga. — The story of Anthony Stokes was supposed to have a happy ending. Instead it ended Tuesday, police say, with the teen heart transplant recipient carjacking someone, burglarizing a home, shooting at an elderly woman, leading police on a high speed chase and then dying after his car hit a pole.
In 2013, the teen’s family told media that an Atlanta hospital rejected him for heart transplant surgery due to what the hospital described in a letter as Stokes’ “history of non-compliance.”
At the time, Mark Bell was acting as a Stokes family spokesman.
Bell said a doctor told the family that Anthony’s low grades and time in juvenile detention factored into the hospital’s decision to deny him a heart.
“The doctor made the decision that he wasn’t a good candidate because of that,” Bell said then. “I guess he didn’t think Anthony was going to be a productive citizen.”
About a week after Stokes’ story made headlines, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta gave him a heart.
On Tuesday, Stokes carjacked someone at a mall, kicked in the door of a home in Roswell, Ga., and fired a shot at an elderly woman, who called 911, Roswell police spokeswoman Lisa Holland said.
Stokes drove away in a black SUV, she said. Police spotted the car and ran its plates which showed it had been stolen.
Police chased the vehicle. Stokes lost control of the car, hit a pedestrian and then a pole, Holland said. The vehicle was nearly halved, she said.
The pedestrian is stable and in good condition, according to WSB. Stokes died at a hospital, Holland said.
In 2013, Stokes’ family provided media with a letter they said was from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“Anthony is currently not a transplant candidate due to having a history of noncompliance, which is one of our center’s contraindications to listing for heart transplant,” it read.
Assessing compliance for potential transplant recipients is important because if a patient doesn’t strictly take all required medicines as directed, he or she could die within weeks of leaving the hospital, said Dr. Ryan Davies, a cardiothoracic surgeon at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del.
Davies was not involved with this case. When Stokes’ family was trying to get him a heart, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference advocated for the teen.
SCLC’s the Rev. Samuel Mosteller told CNN that he was disappointed.
“We got this young man a second chance in life,” he said.
SCLC referred the teenager to a mentor program in the Atlanta area, but Mosteller said that he wasn’t sure if the teenager participated.
“What happened between the time in 2013 to now, I don’t really know,” he said. “How much Anthony recognized the gravity of things and did what he needed to do to make himself a viable citizen, I don’t know. But we tried.”