Dispatcher who failed to dispatch ambulance charged with death in 2020


A Pennsylvania 911 operator faces a rare manslaughter charge for failing to dispatch an ambulance to the rural home of a woman who died of internal bleeding a day later, despite a plea from the daughter of the woman that without medical help “she will die”. ”

A Greene County detective last week filed charges against Leon “Lee” Price, 50, of Waynesburg in the July 2020 death of Diania Kronk, 54, due to Price’s reluctance to send help without getting more assurances that Kronk would actually go to the hospital.

“I believe she would be alive today if they had sent an ambulance,” Kronk’s daughter, Kelly Titchenell, 38, said.

Price, who was also charged with reckless endangerment, official oppression and obstruction, questioned Titchenell several times during the four-minute call about whether Kronk would agree to be taken in for treatment.

Price was arraigned June 29 and released on bail. He did not respond to messages left at a home number listed in his name, and officials said a defense attorney did not contact the district court.

“It needs to be very clear statewide that when you call, it’s not going to be conditioned on someone on the other end of the phone saying whether or not a service will be provided,” said Lawrence E. Bolind Jr. , who is representing Titchenell in a federal lawsuit filed last month. “What we’re trying to do here is that it never happens to anyone else.”

In the 911 recording, an operator identified by police as Price responded to Titchenell’s description that his mother needed hospital treatment by asking if she was “willing to go” to the hospital at around half an hour from where she lived in Sycamore.

“She will be, because I’m going, so she’s going, or she’s going to die,” Titchenell told Price as she drove from her home to Mather.

Price said he would send an ambulance, but then added that “we really need to make sure she’s ready to go.”

“She’s gonna go, she’s gonna go,” Titchenell said. “Because otherwise she will die, there is nothing else.” She said Kronk didn’t think straight and was his mother’s closest relation. When Price asked again if Kronk would actually go, Titchenell replied, “OK, well, can we just give it a try?”

After Titchenell told Price that she was about 10 minutes from her mother’s home, Price asked if Titchenell would call 911 once she made sure Kronk was ready to get to an ambulance.

“I’m sorry,” Titchenell said, and Price replied, “No, don’t be sorry ma’am. Just call me when you’re out, okay?”

When Titchenell and her three children arrived home, she said, Kronk was naked on the porch and talking incoherently. She asked her mother to put on a dress.

“She kept saying she was fine, she’s fine,” Titchenell said. “It’s the mother, you know, she doesn’t listen to her children.”

Titchenell said she couldn’t call from home because her mother’s landline was nowhere to be found and there was no cell service. She also didn’t call on her way home, believing her uncle would soon be watching her and another 911 contact would be unnecessary.

“It’s unheard of for me. I mean, they’ll send an ambulance for anything,” Titchenell said. “And here I tell this guy that my mother is going to die. It’s like her death, and she doesn’t have an ambulance.

Her brother found out the next day that their mother had died.

The prosecutor, Greene County District Attorney Dave Russo, said he was also investigating whether there was a policy or training under which county 911 dispatchers were authorized to refuse calls. caller services.

“We all deserve equal protections and we all deserve access to medical services,” Russo said in an interview. “I have a major concern for the safety of the community on this.”

John Kelly, a Naperville, Illinois attorney who is general counsel for the National Emergency Number Association, said criminal charges against dispatchers for failing to send help are very rare but have occurred.

In a case where Kelly teaches in dispatcher training, a 911 operator in Detroit received a year’s probation in 2008 and lost her job after authorities say she didn’t take calls from a boy seriously. to report that her mother had collapsed. The 5-year-old boy testified that the dispatcher accused him of playing games and hung up on him, while the dispatcher testified that she could not hear the child.

Titchenell, on behalf of his mother’s estate, sued Price and Greene County in federal court in Pittsburgh last month, along with two 911 supervisors. The lawsuit accuses Price of “callous denial of public emergency medical services “.

Marie Milie Jones, county attorney and 911 supervisor in the federal case, said her clients plan to vigorously defend the lawsuit and do not believe they are responsible for Kronk’s death. She said there were “ongoing personnel issues” regarding Price, but declined to elaborate.

“It’s a pity that this woman is dead. Certainly, from a personal point of view, it is very difficult,” Jones said. “I’m not going to comment on the details of his situation.”

Titchenell told Price that his mother had been drinking heavily for a few weeks before her death and that Titchenell had noticed she was losing weight and “going yellow”. She said the autopsy concluded Kronk, who worked in home care, died of internal bleeding.

She said she thinks about her late mother every day – how the longtime former manager of the sub-store loved to cook, help people and spoil her five grandchildren, how she piled a mountain of presents under the tree every Christmas.

“She had the biggest heart,” Titchenell said. “If someone didn’t have a home, she would put them up, give them a bed. It was mom.

ABC News

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