Attorney: Terri's husband cradled her
'It was a very emotional moment for many of us there'
Friday, April 1, 2005 Posted: 8:18 AM EST
(CNN) -- Terri
Schiavo died a "calm, peaceful and gentle death" around 9 a.m. ET Thursday,
cradled by her husband and legal guardian, Michael, said attorney George Felos.
Felos, who is Michael's Schiavo's attorney,
told reporters that when his client entered his wife's room at the Woodside
Hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida, about 8:45 a.m., "it was apparent that it was
the final moments for Mrs. Schiavo."
Also in the room were hospice caregivers;
Michael's brother, Brian; and another Schiavo attorney, Deborah Bushnell, said
Felos, who was himself there.
Her death came less than 12 hours after the
U.S. Supreme Court rejected her parents' last appeal and nearly two weeks after
doctors, acting on an order issued by a state circuit court judge, removed her
life-sustaining feeding tube.
She was 41 and had been incapacitated since
1990 after suffering a heart attack that caused permanent brain damage.
Felos said Michael Schiavo had been staying in
a room just down the hall from his wife for the past two weeks, ever since her
feeding tube was removed March 18 on an order issued at Schiavo's request by
Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer.
Felos said it had become apparent Wednesday
that she was nearing death, with her heart beating rapidly, her skin mottling
and her breathing becoming more difficult.
Even in Terri Schiavo's final moments, there
was one last dispute between her husband and other family members.
Terri's brother, Bobby Schindler, and his
sister, Suzanne Vitadamo, had been in the room visiting their sibling for about
an hour and 45 minutes when a hospice administrator notified Michael Schiavo
that his wife was in her final stages.
Bobby Schindler got upset when a hospice
official asked the siblings to leave the room so that Schiavo's condition could
"There was not a confrontation," said the Rev.
Frank Pavone, a Catholic priest and friend of the family who was there. "He was
simply emotionally upset as anyone would be. ... He was told on no uncertain
terms" they had to leave.
The Schiavo side gave a different version,
saying the brother confronted the police officer who was trying to shepherd them
"Bobby caused a commotion with the police
officer," said Brian Schiavo.
Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos,
stood by his client's decision to have Terri Schiavo's brother and sister leave
"Mr. Schiavo's overriding concern was Mrs.
Schiavo has a right and had a right to die with dignity and die in peace," Felos
said. "She had a right to have her last and final moments on this Earth be
experienced by a spirit of love and not of acrimony."
He added, "I emphasize it because this death
was not for the siblings and not for the spouse and not for the parents. This
was for Terri."
Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, had
begged to be with their firstborn while she drew her last breath but police
denied their request, said Brother Paul O'Donnell, the Schindlers' spokesman and
When they were notified that their daughter
had died, the couple hurriedly came to the hospice and stayed in the room where
her body lay.
"It's our understanding that the Schindlers
spent some time with Terri's body," Felos said. "They were free to spend as much
time as they chose with her body. After they left, the hospice workers bathed
Terri's body, and Mr. Schiavo and all of us went back in to spend some more
Michael Schiavo was not present in the room
during their visit.
'Terri, we love you dearly'
At one point about 30 to 40 hospice workers,
many of whom had stayed past their shifts, formed a circle around Terri
Schiavo's body, Felos said. A hospice chaplain said a prayer, he said.
"It was a very emotional moment for many of us
there," Felos said.
Bobby Schindler later told reporters: "Terri,
we love you dearly, but we know that God loves you more than we do. We must
accept your untimely death as God's will."
Neither he nor his sister mentioned that
morning's incident in the hospice room, but they both indirectly criticized
"After these recent years of neglect at the
hand of those who were supposed to protect and care for her, she is finally at
peace with God for eternity," Vitadamo said.
Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers had been
locked in a bitter court battle since 1998. The husband contended his wife
wouldn't have wanted to be kept alive by artificial means. The parents argued
that if she had intense therapy she would significantly recover.
Clippings from 2005