A St. Augustine paramedic named St. Johns County Paramedic of the Year two years ago admitted to stealing morphine from his rescue truck and shooting it up on duty, the Florida Department of Health and St. Johns Sheriff’s Office said.
On July 23, the Department of Health issued an emergency restriction order (ERO) on the paramedic license that 41-year-old Lt. Matthew Hooker has held since 2003. In St. Johns County Circuit Court, Hooker faces one count of theft of a controlled substance. The forgery charge that was also a part of his arrest won’t be prosecuted.
A 2017 story in St. Augustine Social magazine on Hooker’s 2016 Paramedic of the Year honor said Hooker was a second-generation fire rescue worker who joined St. Johns County Fire Rescue at 16. Also, he beat thyroid cancer after a 2010 diagnosis.
Hooker’s current problems revealed themselves after April 17, according to an arrest report and the ERO.
St. Johns County Fire Rescue Station No. 8 Capt. Kevin Winters perused a Narcotics Control Sheet after a shift during which he’d been shift supervisor. According to a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office report, the sheet said one 8 mg and one 10 mg dose had been dispensed the previous shift.
But, neither of the two calls the previous shift, Winters knew, called for morphine.
Winters saw that Hooker, the officer in charge during that shift, had signed a sheet that two doses of morphine had been administered and fire rescue worker Ian Petersen signed as a witness. Hooker and Petersen each denied signing his name.
St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office detectives were called in to investigate. When they talked to Petersen, the arrest report said, he said the signature that was supposed to be his wasn’t and “appeared to be Lt. Hooker’s.”
The report says when detectives called in Hooker, he “indicated he was addicted to pain medication and was having a hard time combating his addiction.”
Eventually, the report said, Hooker said “he entered the narcotics safe, utilizing his PIN, retrieved the morphine and injected it during his shift. Also, Lt. Hooker admitted he signed the sheet and forged Ian Petersen’s signature.”