911 Mistake Blamed in Death of Dallas Man

EMS call and fire call were believed to be one in the same


 
 

| Monday, December 3, 2012


DALLAS (AP) — A communications mishap among 911 responders meant no one came to the aid of a 20-year-old Dallas man who later died of a drug overdose last month.

Matthew Sanchez collapsed after popping Xanax pills for hours on Nov. 16. A friend dialed 911, then disappeared.

The Dallas Morning News reported (http://dallasne.ws/VjwWDN) that at the time of the call, Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedics were already working an emergency at the same apartment complex that had been phoned in only 11 minutes earlier.

Emergency responders thought the calls were the same, so they did not respond to Sanchez's apartment. He was found dead six hours later.

Now, Sanchez's family is pointing to another mishandled Dallas 911 call in August that ended with a woman murdered.

"My baby brother's dead because of their mistake," the victim's stepbrother, Samuel Sanchez said this week. He then referenced the 911 incident this summer that led to the disciplining and resignation this week of a 911 call taker.

"How many dead bodies does a city need before they will change?"

The Sanchez incident was at least the third time since the summer that a Dallas 911 call has been called into question.

Just after midnight on July 4, a home burned to the ground while seven callers unsuccessfully tried to reach emergency operators. Firefighters eventually responded nine minutes after the initial call, but the house had already been destroyed.

In August, Deanna Cook, 32, was strangled while on the line with a 911 operator, who failed to relay critical information about the fatal attack to police. The operator was given a 10-day suspension and, this week, resigned.

Lt. Joel Lavender, a Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman, said responders followed proper procedures during the Sanchez incident, when emergency workers verified that there was only one call by asking the original patient if the number from the second call belonged to the first patient.

The patient was asked about the second call while being rushed to the hospital for an undisclosed medical condition.

"With the information we had at that time," Lavender said, "we assumed the one incident was the same."

Dallas Fire-Rescue is conducting an internal investigation.

The night Sanchez overdosed, his stepbrother says he'd called a new friend, Samuel Kim, to hang out at his apartment. Kim says he was smoking marijuana and Matthew was swallowing Xanax pills.

Kim says he called 911 then drove away. He said later that he fled because he believed there were warrants out for his arrest and he was afraid of interacting with police.

He said he was never asked by the 911 call taker whether his call was related to the earlier one.

"I feel really guilty that I didn't stay," Kim said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.



Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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