The Ambulance Crew
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Excerpt From The Book: Hendrix: The Final Days By Tony Brown.

The ambulance call was officially logged at 11:18 AM, but it's still unclear who actually made that call.

The Samarkand was a residential hotel which is still owned by Danny Hall. It has notbeen possible to verify if each individual room of the hotel had a separate telephone with a direct outside line at that time.The ambulance reached the Samarkand Hotel in nine minutes at 11:27.

The crew on board that morning comprised Reginald Jones, who had been an ambulance attendant for thirty years, and who was driving the ambulance that day, and John Saua, who had been in the service for twenty years. Reg Jones's usual crew partner was off duty on sick leave, and Saua was his replacement that week. Reg Jones: "It was horrific, we arrived at the flat, the door was flung wide open, nobody about, just the body on the bed. We called out for someone, loads of times, so we walked in. We went into the bedroom, it was very dark because the curtains were still pulled, I mean the gas fire was on but you couldn't see anything, your eyes had to adjust. He was covered in vomit, there was tons of it all over the pillow, black and brown it was. His airway was completely blocked all the way down, his tongue had fallen back, he was flat on his back you see.

The room was dark, we had to pull the curtains. Well we had to get the police, we only had him and an empty flat, so John ran up and radioed, got the aspirator too. We felt his pulse between his shoulders, pinched his earlobe and nose, showed a light in his eyes, but there was no response at all. I knew he was dead as soon as I walked in the room, you get a feel for it, I can't explain it, but you do and I knew he was dead.

Once the police arrived which seemed like no time at all, we got him off to the hospital as quick as we could. See we just have to keep working on him and we did, my shirt was wringing wet. 'Cos the ambulances in them days, weren't equipped like they are now, we had them crazy Wadhams [type of ambulance] in them days, awful they was.

We took him to St. Mary Abbots. That don't have a casualty ward now but in them days it did. "That was our designated hospital for the day. There was a 'bed state' at St. Charles, you found out at the beginning of your shift what your designated hospital was."

Did anyone come along in the ambulance with you? "No, Mr Saua was with Jimi, I didn't know he was Jimi Hendrix - a bit out of my age group. When we got him to the hospital, we had to clean the ambulance out, it really was a mess. His bowels and bladder, all that goes when you're dead. That flat must've needed a good clean too." Did you sit him up in the ambulance? "Sit him up? No, you don't sit people up when they've choked. The steps up from the flat were steep, and you had a natural incline on the way up, but no, he wasn't sat up." Did you speak to anyone at the flat or on the way? 'Just the police and hospital staff."

John Saua confirms Reg Jones' story: "Well I remember we had a hell of a time trying to suck him out [with an aspirator]. I mean the vomit was dry, and there was a hell of a lot of it.The aspirators in those days were all right but not like you have today, they couldn't shift that lot. I mean we knew it was hopeless, nothing would have worked. To tell you the truth, I thought it was an overdose. It wasn't really my business to diagnose, I just had to keep working. There were no bed clothes on top of him.

An ambulance crew by law just has to keep on working on him until we get him to hospital. There was no pulse, no respiration. We got down to the flat, and there was nobody but the body on the bed. So we had to radio for the police from the ambulance. We couldn't touch anything in the flat. As I say, we knew he was gone, he was on top of the bed dressed, but I did not recognize him, don't know anybody would have recognized him, his mother wouldn't have recognized him. He was in a pool of vomit, it was everywhere, but we are not doctors, it's our job to keep trying till we get him to hospital, we can't proclaim him dead ... I vaguely remember taking a sample of the vomit in a container, because we didn't know what he had taken.

So as soon as the police arrived, we were off. I was in the back with Jimi, Reg drove. When we moved him, the gases were gurgling, you get that when someone has died, it wasn't too pleasant. The vomit was all the way down, we couldn't have got an airway down. He was flat on his back, it's a shame he wasn't on his side because he probably would have pulled through.

"Neither John Saua nor Reg Jones had spoken to each other since the week they had worked together in September 1970. Reg's usual crew partner had returned and John went back to his own station - yet their recollections remain strikingly similar.

John Saua was interviewed for the BBC Radio One's Wink Of An Eye broadcast on September 10, 1995. On the programme he said: "there's a standard procedure especially for someone who's unconscious. They travel on their side. All the equipment is there at his head if you need to do resuscitation, anything like that, it's all there ready to use." He reiterates the fact that Monika did not travel with them to the hospital. "There was just me and the casualty and Reg the driver. Nobody else."

In January 1992, David Smith, Press and Public Affairs Manager of the London Ambulance Service, issued an official statement after conducting his own investigation into the conduct of the Ambulance men that morning. "In light of our extensive enquiries it is apparent that the ambulance men acted in a proper and professional manner," his statement said. "There was no one else, except the deceased, at the flat [22 Lansdowne Crescent, London WI] when they arrived; nor did anyone else accompany them in the ambulance to St. Mary Abbots Hospital."

At about 11:30 pm, PC Ian Smith and PC Tom Keene, police officers attached to nearby Notting Date police station, responded to the call from ambulance HQ and went to the Samarkand Hotel. They arrived within minutes of getting the call.

Ian Smith, now a publican in Aylesbury, remembers that day vividly: "We went to a basement flat at Lansdowne Crescent. The ambulance men were there but Jimi was dead. It wasn't very pleasant, they had to take some of the bedding from around him. He was dressed but there was a lot of mess, so they just wrapped it around his body and took him off. There was really nothing they could do for him. We followed them up the stairs. I watched them put him in the ambulance and take off." Asked if there was anyone else there, Smith replied. "No, I remember quite clearly the doors shutting on the crew and Jimi. We just closed up the flat as there was no one about. If she'd (Monica) been in the flat, they would never have called us to come, because they just could've taken him as normal. But because no one was there, he was dead and circumstances were a little odd, suspicious, they radioed their control to get us in. It wasn't until later in the day that I found out that it was Jimi Hendrix."

In a subsequent interview with the author, Smith stated: "I've had a few people coming to interview me. Basically all I can tell them is that I was around at the time, I didn't see him, I was there as they were carrying him out. I didn't know who he was till later." Tom Keene, the second police offer at the scene, has never been located.