The Associated Press
DENVER, Colo. (AP) - A Denver sheriff's deputy initially told he was ineligible for workers' compensation after trying to rescue an infant from a burning house, might be able to receive benefits after all, authorities said.
George Gatchis, 32, was nearly rendered unconscious and suffered smoke inhalation during the rescue attempt Thursday at the home day care center in Arapahoe County. He was off duty at the time, and his supervisors had told him he would have to use his personal health insurance to pay for his treatment.
On Tuesday, however, Denver Undersheriff Fred Oliva urged Gatchis to file a workers' compensation claim and said his department would support it.
"When the officer takes something like this on himself, I don't think there is a reason he shouldn't be covered," Oliva said. "We will be in full support of him before the workers' compensation board."
Denver City Attorney Cole Finegan had said he was puzzled about why Gatchis was told he could not get workers' compensation, because the review process usually takes several days.
Fire investigators have not determined the cause of the fire.
Three children and a woman escaped unharmed, but firefighters found the body of 3-month-old Reginald "Donald" King inside the house.
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If he had to use his own health insurance, Gatchis would be responsible for deductibles and co-pays, while workers' compensation would cover all his medical bills. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 27 donated $500 to help him cover those bills.