The neighbour of a man who died at home with pneumonia has wept through her evidence at the Adelaide Coroners Court, saying a paramedic repeatedly said the man was overreacting with the “man flu” and “needed to behave” in the lead up to his death.

Father-of-two and Indian national Hemant Chadha died in April 2020 after seeking help from emergency departments in Adelaide several times during the COVID pandemic.

Neighbour Irma Crews told the court on Friday she went around to the Chadha’s Parafield Gardens home on April 21 when a female and male ambulance crew attended – telling the court the male officer repeatedly “stressed” that Mr Chadha was overreacting with the “man flu” and “was being a naughty boy” that “needed to behave”.

“I felt like [the male paramedic] wanted his opinion registered,” she said.

“It was hard for me to listen to.”

Ms Crews said Mr Chadha at that time was lying down and looked incoherent, weak and could barely keep his eyes open.

“[Mrs Chadha] was trying to keep it together – she was saying they had been to the doctors, she was saying that there was definitely something wrong,” she said.

The SA coroner is investigating the death of Hemant Chadha.(ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

The neighbour said it was a “battle” to convince the crew to take Mr Chadha to hospital.

“[The male paramedic] did say to me in a more quiet voice, ‘I suppose we also need to consider the cultural aspect,'” Ms Crews said – after the decision was made to bring him to the Lyell McEwin Hospital.

Ms Crews told the court she was not sure what the paramedic meant by that and did not want to question him further in front of Mr Chadha’s wife.

The neighbour of eight years told the court Mr Chadha was a “quietly spoken” man who would bring food over for her and was always willing to help her.

She told the court after the ambulance incident she spoke to his two children in case they had overheard the paramedic’s comments.

“I was really fearful that the children heard it,” she said. 

“I made a point of talking to the two of them of saying, ‘I don’t know what you’ve heard … I need you to know that your father is very, very ill and also very, very brave.'”

Under cross examination by counsel for one of the paramedics, Ms Crews was asked whether she thought the male paramedic was joking.

“I suggest to you that the comment about a cold or man flu was a joke to build rapport with Mrs Chadha and calm everyone down,” the lawyer said. 

“Absolutely not,” Ms Crews replied.

“I suggest that you knew that it was a joke because you smiled, is that correct?” he asked.

“There was nothing to smile about that night,” she replied.

The following night Ms Crews said she got a call from Mrs Chadha in the early hours of the morning when she ran into the house to see Mr Chadha being resuscitated.

“I lost it – I screamed,” she said.

“[The paramedics] insisted the night before… that there was nothing wrong with him, he just had a man flu – very next day he’s dead.”

The inquest continues.

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