LOS ANGELES, CA (ABC NEWS)- A family plans to sue Los Angeles County and Sheriff Jim McDonnell, claiming that mishandled 911 calls contributed to their daughter’s death from an asthma attack on Christmas Eve of last year.
The family of Ashley Flores alleges that at least five calls that day were forwarded to the wrong number, according to their lawyers Dale Galipo and Vicki Sarmiento.
Ashley, 11, was having trouble breathing so her family called 911, the lawyers said. The calls were made by Ashley’s family members, and each call was answered by the same Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, according to the attorneys.
The sheriff’s deputy, who has not been named, mistakenly routed the calls to an empty fire station, not the fire dispatch, causing a 15-minute delay until another family member was finally connected to dispatch, according to Sarmiento.
Galipo said in a press conference Tuesday that the critical delay ultimately cost Ashley her life. By the time the last call was made, Ashley had stopped breathing.
The dramatic 911 call released today reveals the frantic urgency over the phone:
“Fire Department, I’m 81.”
“I tried calling you guys like five minutes ago. The baby’s not breathing. She’s f—— purple!”
“What’s the address?”
“Ten minutes ago.”
“Ma’am this is the first time I’m talking to you.”
“Yes it is, it’s the first time I’m talking to you”
“… I already called. Can you guys please hurry up? I think she’s dead.”
According to Galipo and Sarmiento, the failure to provide adequate training goes all the way back to McDonnell, emphasizing an overall problem in the system. Century Station’s Desk Operations, a branch of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in Lynwood, which is the district the Flores family lives in, have not passed inspections for the past three years, the lawyers said.
“The doctor at the hospital, who spoke to the family, told them that if the response had been sooner, in his opinion, Ashley would have lived,” Galipo said.
Dulce Flores, 16, said she misses her sister Ashley every day.
“Watching someone you love die in front of your very own eyes is absolutely terrible, and it changes you as a person, mentally, physically. It’s hard every day to go on,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to suffer the way me or my family suffered.”
The lawsuit, which alleges gross negligence and inadequate training, will be filed in the next 45 days, according to Galipo and Sarmiento. The sheriff’s department would not comment on pending litigation but said it had opened up its own investigation as well.
McDonnell has personally sent his condolences to the family, according to a statement from the LASD.