Professor dies on campus after 16 years as EMT director

By Sienna Hennessy

EMT Director Cheryl Pittman, age 68, died on campus Thursday evening; she was found in her car parked by the F9 bungalows near the Administration of Justice Department.

Administration of Justice Department Chair Siage Hosea said Pittman had a class in session Thursday evening, but she had professional experts and an adjunct instructor lecturing her class that night.

Hosea said one of the professional experts that had been teaching Pittman’s class that evening discovered her around 7 p.m.

The Monterey Park Fire Department was called at 7:08 p.m and arrived on the scene at 7:14 p.m. 

The fire department and ambulance were on the scene until 7:54 p.m. Pittman was not transported to the hospital.

Hosea said one of Pittman’s students performed CPR on her. 

Pittman was not able to be resuscitated.

Hosea said the fire department commented that the students performed CPR exactly as they should and had she been able to be saved, the students gave her the best chance possible.

Hosea refrained from naming the professional expert and student for their privacy.

Hosea said one of the paramedics on the scene said he was Pittman’s student years ago. 

Deputy Chien Huei Li said the determined cause of death was natural causes.

“I saw her in the last couple of months, and I could see that she had some health issues,” Hosea said.

Hosea said adjunct professor Mario Guerra is assuming responsibility for Pittman’s class until the end of the semester and the Administration of Justice Department is working to make the transition as seamless as possible for the students.

As far as hiring a new EMT director, Hosea said he makes a request to the Dean, which is eventually passed to the President and the hiring process is performed by the Los Angeles Community College District.

After many attempts from Campus News staff to reach Dean of Instructional Services and Sciences Djuradj Babic, he said beyond confirming Pittman’s death he wished to refrain from further comment.

“(Pittman had) been the backbone of that department for many years. She’s always been the director of the EMT program. It’s a huge loss for us. Not only just administratively, but she was the heart and soul of the program,” Hosea said.

He had known Pittman since he began working at ELAC 18 years ago.

Hosea said she really cared for her students. She could be stern with her curriculum, but the reason was because she understood the importance of sending aspiring professionals out to do work as EMTs, paramedics and fire professionals. 

She understood that the students need to be capable of performing life-saving work to ensure public safety when a 911 call is made.

“She was just a good hearted person… She got along with all her colleagues,” Hosea said.

“Dr. Pittman was a kind person. She had a big heart. Her students were her number one priority. She was dedicated and understanding. I will miss her dearly,” Administration of Justice adjunct instructor Janis Cavanaugh said. 

“She was (on campus) every day. She was not a person who was able to call in sick. She was there every day for her students… I’m pretty sure she passed away doing exactly what she wanted to do,” Hosea said..

He said through the last couple months of noticeable health issues, Pittman came to class every day walking with her cane.

Pittman is survived by her younger brother Robert Pittman, her friend Maria and her goddaughter.

Robert said his sister enjoyed spending a lot of time with her goddaughter, daughter of Maria, outside of work.

Robert said he saw his sister as having three families: himself, Maria and her daughter and the college.

He said his sister would have turned 69 years old on Jan. 7.

He said his sister was a dedicated and committed person who was passionate about helping people, and she knew what she wanted to do early on.

“That’s why she was in the (emergency) field… She started as a firefighter… and she continued on from firefighter to EMT and paramedic… She (later) got into the academic field,” Robert said.

He said her death was a shock because he was unaware of her declining health.

Robert said adjunct professor Guerra called him Thursday evening to discuss her death.

He said Guerra was a friend of Pittman who even attended their mother’s funeral in 2017.

He said Guerra, “thought highly of Cheryl because she has been a benefit to his life and many other students and graduates of the school.”

Robert said learning that gave him a feeling of high respect and high regard of what his sister did with her life and how she gave back to the community.

There is no information regarding a funeral for Cheryl Pittman at this time.

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