LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The family of an 11-year-old Lynwood girl, who died following an asthma attack on Christmas Eve last year, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Los Angeles County claiming that emergency dispatchers botched multiple 911 calls, severely delaying the response time of paramedics.
On Dec. 24, 2017, the family of Ashley Flores called 911 about five times after Ashley began having trouble breathing.
Ashley’s 16-year-old sister, Dulce, said she was put on hold and then called a second and a third time. In another call, Flores’ aunt Norma can be heard pleading for an ambulance.
“I called once, that should have been enough,” Dulce told CBS2 back in April.
“She didn’t deserve to die,” Ashley said at a press conference in Downtown L.A. Tuesday. “Watching someone you love die in front of your very eyes is absolutely terrible, and it changes you as a person. I don’t want anyone to go through all my family’s going through.”
Ashley’s other aunt, Maggie, says she arrived at the house about 15 minutes after Ashley stopped breathing and also placed a call to 911.
“I saw her just laying there, her lips were purple, her feet were purple,” Maggie said. “My neighbor was giving her CPR. I think I was the fourth call.”
When Norma finally got through and reached an L.A. Country fire dispatcher, it was too late.
“It was a terrible mistake,” Ashley’s sister Jessica said. “The doctor said it would be 10 minutes earlier, we would have had Ashley here with us.”
The claim alleges “totally inadequate training and gross negligence by Los Angeles County and Sheriff McDonnell who are responsible for the training,” according to a news release Monday from the attorneys representing the Flores family. The family is seeking compensatory damages.
“Had there been a timely response, Ashley would’ve lived, so the question is, ‘Why did this happen?'” attorney Dale Galipo told reporters Tuesday.
The L.A. County Fire Department admitted that the 911 calls from Ashley’s family were mistakenly transferred to a phone in a nearby fire station, but the paramedics there happened to be out on another call. The fire house was empty, so there was no one to answer the phone.
However, Ashley’s father told CBS2 the family is still waiting for a call from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept.
“Waiting for answers, and nobody told me nothing,” said Alfonso Flores. “Nothing. Nobody. So, this is what I need for answers and justice.”
The LASD said it will not comment on the case because it is now involved in a lawsuit, but said it was standing by it’s original statement, which read in part,
“Clearly the death of this little girl is heartbreaking. We have opened an investigation into the incident and until all the facts are clearly established through a thorough review, we will not be able to comment further.”
“What made that dispatcher think that calling a local fire station is the right thing?” pediatrician Dr. Daved van Stralen, a former medical director for the Riverside County Emergency Management Department and a former paramedic with the Los Angeles Fire Department, told CBS2 back in April. “It can’t have happened out of the clear blue.”
The family is asking how it is that facts still need to be established when the incident took place in December.