Dr. Bhagwan Bang was charged with reckless driving, not yielding to an emergency vehicle, and driving on the wrong side of the road on Sept. 8, 2014, in Covington County, Alabama. But thousands voiced their support in an online petition because the pediatrician was speeding to the Andalusia Regional Hospital in an effort to save a newborn baby who was having trouble breathing, noted WSFA (video below).
Bang, who is the only pediatrician at the Andalusia Regional Hospital, called 911 to explain to a dispatcher why he was speeding on Highway 84. During the call, the dispatcher and the police, including an assistant police chief, told him to slow down while the cops followed him. Bang was still pulled over.
I thought they were trying to escort me. I just kept on proceeding. I realized that one of the police cars went in front of me to stop me. And this time, the image is in my mind of the baby. They could have a ruptured lung and I may need to do something. There are times when you need a skilled physician there. Obviously, minutes and seconds matter. I had to stop when the police officer came in front of me. I waited for 15 minutes.
Bang eventually did arrive at the hospital and tried to stabilize the newborn, but the infant had to be transferred to a neonatal unit at a hospital in Pensacola, Florida, where the child died two days later.
Bang was recently found guilty by Judge Ronnie Penn even though several nurses testified on his behalf, and there was a written statement supporting him from a neonatal specialist at the Pensacola hospital, noted The Andalusia Star-News.
"Several minutes count. It could mean a whole life to this child, or making them handicapped," Bang said.
Opp, Alabama, Police Chief Mike McDonald announced on May 19 that the convictions would be dropped against Bang who will have to attend a driver's ed class instead, reports WSFA.
David Baker, Bang's lawyer, said in a statement, "We're glad that the city has decided to dismiss the charges and that's going to allow Dr. Bang to return to patient care which is what we wanted to begin with."
McDonald also released Bang's history of tickets for speeding: 2006 (twice), 2008 and 2012.
Bang told The Andalusia Star-News that a 2006 stop was emergency-related.
In an apparent contradiction to the 911 call, McDonald claimed his police department doesn't do vehicle-to-vehicle escorts because of insurance issues, noted WSFA.