Dept. of Investigation Launches Probe into Ariel Russo, 911 System SNAFU
By Pedro Oliveira Jr on July 2, 2013 8:06pm |
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The Department of Investigation has launched a probe into how the city's flawed 911 system caused an four-minute delay in emergency workers responding to the accident that killed 4-year-old Ariel Russo, officials confirmed.
The girl was struck on an Upper West Side sidewalk by a car on June 4 driven by 17-year-old Franklin Reyes — who was fleeing the cops after they tried to pull him over, according to court papers.
Ariel’s family called for an independent investigation of the city’s 911 system Tuesday after it surfaced that high-ranking EMS officials knew the system was plagued with errors — even before the 4-year-old was struck and killed.
“On the morning of June 4, time was of the essence as it always is in such emergencies, but my 4-year-old daughter Ariel waited 8 minutes for an ambulance to arrive,” Ariel’s mother, Sofia Russo, told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “I’m haunted by the fact that she was alive … and probably would have been alive today had an ambulance been dispatched in a timely fashion.”
Little Ariel was just steps from her Upper West Side school, on 97th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, when the car jumped the curb and killed the girl, sending her grandmother, Katia Gutierrez, to the hospital.
The Daily News on Tuesday revealed a June 6 email exchange between EMS officials showing that about quarter to a third of calls transmitted from the NYPD were ending up as “lost calls.”
In one of the emails, EMS computer-programming boss Carla Murphy said Deputy Fire Chief Napoli told her about the problem before Ariel was struck.
The NYPD and FDNY management said that the issue of "lost calls" was exaggerated by the tabloid.
"There was no dropped calls," said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. "There is a message that comes on the screen and it says 'PD lost.' That really is a misnomer and should be changed."
He said that "maybe 10 times in 5,000 calls" messages to the 911 operated get fragmented so that the message comes across piecemeal.
"This is a normal process. Again, I think the term should be changed because it does not indicate a lost call," said Kelly.
He added, "Hopefully it will be corrected. What I'm told, it has nothing to do with response times."
The girl’s mother on June 21 asked the City Council to fix its 911 call system, claiming the delay may have been a “substantial factor” in the girl’s death.
Ariel’s family is suing the city for $40 million, claiming the operator’s fumble played a role in Ariel’s death.
“I don’t want any other family to go through what my family is going through,” Sofia Russo said. “I want answers.”
A DOI spokeswoman said that the investigation began over a week ago.