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DID BOY DIE BECAUSE DOCTOR DOZED OFF DURING EAR SURGERY?

An anesthesiologist who allegedly fell asleep during an 8-year-old boy's ear surgery two years ago was charged Wednesday with reckless manslaughter in the child's death.

Joseph Verbrugge surrendered at police headquarters Wednesday where he was jailed on $7,500 bail.Verbrugge is charged in the death of Richard Leonard of Westminster. The child died July 8, 1993, during routine ear surgery at St. Joseph Hospital.

Verbrugge and his attorney declined to com-ment.

"This gives a sense of closure that I think is quite important," said the boy's father, Jay Leonard. "I think it does send a message that when a physician is found grossly negligent, he should be held accountable for his actions. His conduct was totally egregious."

Verbrugge's license to practice medicine was revoked in December by the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners for "grossly negligent" care of the boy.

Verbrugge dozed off during surgery, failed to notice the boy was in distress and didn't resuscitate him immediately, according to a ruling by the judge who heard the license-revocation case.

Nurses said they saw Verbrugge slumped in his chair during surgery, with his head nodding.

There were at least six other incidents in which Verbrugge fell asleep or failed to remain alert during surgery, according to the attorney general's office.

Verbrugge admitted some wrongdoing in caring for the Leonard boy, but said it was an "isolated lapse" and didn't warrant the loss of his license.