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Neil Armstrong's Death Holds a Darker Backstory

Family settled with hospital where he died in 2012 for $6M over alleged wrongful death
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2019 7:11 AM CDT
In this July 21, 1969 photo made available by NASA, astronaut Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, sits inside the Lunar Module after he and Buzz Aldrin completed their extravehicular activity on the...   (Buzz Aldrin/NASA via AP)
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(Newser) – Neil Armstrong's family received $6 million to settle a wrongful death claim after experts said the astronaut's Aug. 25, 2012 death may have been preventable. The news is only now being reported by the New York Times, which received documents relating to the settlement from an anonymous sender, as Cincinnati's Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital "insisted on keeping the complaints and the settlement secret." Armstrong had experienced significant bleeding as temporary wires used to pace his heartbeat were removed following coronary bypass surgery. Experts would later question why he was taken to a catheterization lab, where blood was drained from his heart, rather than directly to an operating room. One surgeon who reviewed the case for the hospital described it as a risky decision. Afterward, "the patient became unsalvageable on the way to the OR."

Armstrong's sons, Mark and Rick, alleged incompetent care. In a July 2014 email to the hospital's lawyers, Mark's wife, lawyer Wendy Armstrong, noted the brothers had been "solicited by several book writers and filmmakers for 'information about Neil that no one already knows'" and were about to speak at a public ceremony in honor of the moon landing. "No institution wants to be remotely associated with the death of one of America's greatest heroes," added a lawyer for Armstrong's grandchildren. She noted "the entire payment must be repaid in full" if the case is "ever revealed by the parties to the agreement." Mark and Rick split nearly $5.2 million, per the Times. Armstrong's brother and sister each received $250,000, while six grandchildren each received $24,000. Armstrong's widow, Carol, told the Times she signed off on the settlement as executor but otherwise wasn't involved. "I want that for the record," she said. (Read more Neil Armstrong stories.)

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