Suspended nurse indicted in death of North Myrtle Beach radio personality

troot@thesunnews.comApril 4, 2013 

— An Horry County grand jury indicted a nurse this week in the death of a North Myrtle Beach radio personality, who was her patient last year, according to court records.

Janet Kupka, 54, of Myrtle Beach is indicted on a charge of first-degree assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, according to court documents released Tuesday. She is accused in the death of Bill Norman, who owned WNMBA-AM 900 and co-owner of WVCO-FM 94.9 “The Surf.”

Kupka’s nursing license has been suspended since Dec. 13, until the charges are resolved, the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Police arrested Kupka on Dec. 5 after allegations that she gave Norman too much medication while he was being treated at Grand Strand Regional Medical center after he suffered a stroke in October. She has been free on $20,000 bail since her arrest.

An investigation into Norman’s death began on Oct. 19 – five days after the 63-year-old’s death – after police received a report from hospital officials that a patient possibly was over medicated.

An arrest affidavit shows that a witness, who was not identified, said that Norman was a patient and receiving 4 mg of morphine every half hour. A quantity of the morphine was stockpiled to make a larger dose. The report said the witness saw Kupka in Norman’s room administering something to him through intravenous therapy.

According to police, Kupka told the witness that she had given the victim 20 mg of morphine, which was a dose much higher than what had been prescribed and possibly life-threatening. Later, on the same day, the witness said Kupka took a bottle and tubing of Diprivan, which is a general anesthetic, from another patient’s room and went into Norman’s.

Norman’s health monitors sounded, and the witness told police that Kupka was in his room and said she had given him the Diprivan , according to the report. Norman died a short time later.

The police report showed the incidents occurred between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. Oct. 14.

At the time of her arrest, Kupka refused to comment when reached at home. Norman’s family also declined to comment.

According to the S.C. Board of Nursing website, at the time of her arrest, Kupka was in good standing with the board and her nursing license was active until April 30, 2014. Kupka’s South Carolina nursing license was issued on Oct. 11, 2005.

Kupka previously held a nursing license in New Jersey from Aug. 1, 1981 until it expired on May 31, 2009, according to the N.J. Department of Law and Public Safety Division of Consumer Affairs. Her license there also was in good standing.

Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or follow her at Twitter.com/tonyaroot.

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