Ariel Russo's Parents to Testify at City Council 911 Hearing

By Mathew Katz on June 20, 2013 7:32pm | Updated on June 21, 2013 9:26am

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 Ariel Russo, 4, was hit by a car that was fleeing the police Tuesday June 4, 2013.
4-Year-Old Ariel Russo Was Killed by an SUV Fleeing a Police Car
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NEW YORK CITY — The parents of a 4-year-old girl who was killed after being run over by an unlicensed driver outside her Upper West Side school will appear Friday at a City Council hearing on problems with the FDNY's new 911 system.

Ariel Russo's parents allege that emergency responders were slow to arrive at the scene of the deadly accident because of glitches in the new 911 system.

The girl's parents, Sofia and Alan Russo, are suing the city for $40 million because of a 4-minute delay between the time the 911 call about the accident was placed and the time an ambulance was dispatched. The FDNY has blamed the delay on a 911 dispatcher who left her terminal and missed the call, costing precious minutes before it could be dispatched to paramedics.

Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway is expected to announce at the hearing that calls going forward will be measured from when they're placed, not from when dispatchers send aid, according to the New York Post.

Ariel, described by her mother as a "loving, caring little girl," died on June 4 when Franklin Reyes, 17, sped away from cops after they tried to stop him and crashed into the girl and her grandmother, Katia Gutierrez, at West 97th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Reyes was charged with manslaughter and ordered held without bail.

While the city blamed the delay on human error, union officials and sources who work with the 911 system blame the city's new emergency response system for triggering the slow response, according to a report by the Daily News.

The City Council's Fire and Criminal Justice Services and Public Safety and Technology Committees will hold the joint hearing starting at 10:30 a.m. at City Hall. The hearing is expected to last the bulk of the day, with the Russo family planning to testify in the afternoon.

According to the City Council, portions of the new dispatch system have crashed at least four times over the past several weeks.

 "Ariel was here for a reason," said her mother, Sofia Russo. "I believe that reason was to inspire love and hope, but most importantly, change."
"Ariel was here for a reason," said her mother, Sofia Russo. "I believe that reason was to inspire love and hope, but most importantly, change."
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

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