BOCA RATON, Fla. — Sheriff’s deputies rushed to help a young doctor who had crashed his Cadillac coupe west of Boca Raton early Friday, only to jolt him repeatedly with their Tasers after he turned on them aggressively, authorities said.
Dr. Mark Holder, 30, of Boynton Beach remained in critical condition at Delray Medical Center Friday evening as Palm Beach County sheriff’s investigators tried to piece together what preceded the crash and the outburst that followed.
Holder, who is director of Imperial Health, a North Miami Beach-based medical practice, and works at urgent care medical centers near Boca Raton and Lake Worth, was driving his blue Cadillac STS south on Military Trail near Champion Boulevard about 3:30 a.m. when he apparently had a seizure, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera in a written statement. His passenger, NeNe Piltoff, 47, of Delray Beach, grabbed the wheel as the Cadillac swerved into the northbound lanes of Military Trail before crashing into a concrete sign at the Addison Court strip mall west of Boca Raton.
Paramedics found the pair inside the wrecked car. When an emergency worker tried to wrap a brace around Holder’s neck, the 6-foot-2, 280-pound doctor became “extremely combative,” Barbera said. He fought with rescue workers and then with deputies, who drew their Tasers and shocked him “multiple times” before he was driven to the hospital.
The incident wasn’t the first time Holder became aggressive after having a seizure, according to his family, who were nonetheless baffled at the deputies’ account of his behavior.
“I don’t understand how he could have been so combative,” said Holder’s sister, Tanaegh Haddad, from her home near Minneapolis. She said overwork, dehydration and fatigue had preceded Holder’s seizures in the past. She pointed to one incident in Minneapolis in which her brother went without sleep for a day or two before playing sports, which caused him to collapse. She said when paramedics tried to revive him he became aggressive.
“He was actually fighting them and punched one. They held him down and took him to a hospital,” she said.
Haddad said she didn’t know where Holder was going Friday morning or who his passenger was. She said he never used drugs and had no known medical condition that causes seizures.
Holder, who was born in Liberia, was listed as a partner of the African and American Friendship Association for Cooperation and Development, according to the organization’s Web site.
He graduated from the University of Minnesota and the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and completed his residency in family medicine at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Holder “has been named the ‘human chameleon’ for his ability to excel in many different environments,” the Web site says. “With travel throughout the United States, many Caribbean and African countries, this individual possesses unmatched communication abilities. This has led to many political relationships in United States and Liberia.
“Dr. Holder projects a bold persistent determination that welcomes challenges of all sorts. He is further convinced that the African spirit must be glorified for its ability to overcome the many obstacles and rejuvenate. With this flame, he visualizes a self-reliant, united Africa, exhibiting African history, culture, and values.”
The sheriff’s office was treating Friday’s confrontation as a “critical incident” and tapped detectives from the agency’s Violent Crimes Division and Internal Affairs to investigate. Barbera said it wasn’t clear how many deputies were involved, how many times the deputies shocked Holder, or whether the deputies were put on administrative leave. None of the deputies names was released.
The crash and resulting investigation closed both northbound and southbound lanes of Military Trail from just north of Clint Moore Road to Champion Boulevard for about 11 hours.
The closure cut off access to the Polo Club Shoppes, about 40 businesses at the northwest corner of Clint Moore and Military.
By 9:30 a.m., the Moda Salon already had lost 10 to 15 customers who’d heard of the road blockage and called to cancel, or had been unable to get to the salon, manager Lenny Borelli said.
“We’re canceling left and right,” Borelli said.
On the east side of Military, at Addison Court, Offerdahl’s Cafe Grill general manager Brian Gato was wiping down empty sidewalk tables.
“We’ve lost a huge day,” Gato said. “Friday being the busiest day, it’s killed my business.”
Staff writers Sonja Isger and Lona O’Connor and staff researchers Neils Heimeriks and Melanie Mena contributed to this story.