WARREN Matt Ecker fought back tears today, describing for a jury how he watched as his 25-year-old son stood at attention and saluted him before putting a pistol to his head, killing himself in 2009.
"He was bleeding severely. His eyes rolled back and they were still open. I tried to think of what you're supposed to do in that situation. What do you do?" Ecker said. "I held his hand and I prayed."
Ecker's son Michael had come home from the war in Iraq about three years earlier and was in the family's backyard in Champion near a pond. He had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder along with traumatic head injuries suffered in battle. He also was taking pain medication for his back and ankle.
"It was just difficult for him to adjust to civilian life after the military," Ecker said, fighting back more tears as he recalled picking up his son at the airport Christmas eve of 2006.
The family, including an older son Mark, is holding two doctors responsible to for the suicide which is playing out in a wrongful death-medical malpractice trial being staged in the courtroom of Judge Ronald Rice.
The Eckers claim Dr. Zachary F. Veres and his father, Dr. Frank G. Veres, who have a family practice in Champion, breached the standard of care in their pain management treatment of the veteran.
Attorney Thomas Prislipsky, who represents the doctors, made it clear in his opening statements that it was an irrational and impulsive act that led to the suicide and nothing can be attributed to care and treatment by the local doctors.
Prislipsky has pointed out how Ecker despised treatment he was getting by doctors at the Veterans Administration.
Read the full story about today's testimony in the Wednesday Tribune Chronicle.