A Pennsylvania 911 operator is facing a rare charge of involuntary manslaughter because he failed to send an ambulance to the home of a woman who died of internal bleeding a day later.
The woman’s daughter even told the operator that without medical help “she’s going to die.”
A Greene County detective last week filed charges against Leon “Lee” Price, 50, of Waynesburg, for the July 2020 death of Diania Kronk, 54, claiming his reluctance to send help without getting more assurance that Kronk would actually go to the hospital.
“I believe she would be alive today if they would have sent an ambulance,” said Kronk’s daughter Kelly Titchenell, 38.
Price was also charged with reckless endangerment, official oppression, and obstruction. Apparently, he questioned Titchenell repeatedly during the four-minute call about whether she would agree to go to the hospital.
Price has since been released on bail ABC News reported.
“It has to be very clear throughout the entire state, that when you call it’s not going to be conditioned on somebody on the other end of the phone saying there’s going to be a service provided or not,” said Lawrence E. Bolind Jr., who represents Titchenell in the federal lawsuit. “What we’re trying to do here is make this never happen to somebody else.”
In the 911 recording, Price replied to Titchenell’s plea that her mother needed
hospital treatment by asking if she was “willing to go” to the hospital that is about a half-hour away from where she was living in Sycamore.
“She will be, ’cause I’m on my way there, so she’s going, or she’s going to die,” Titchenell told Price as she drove from her home in Mather.
Price informed her that he would send an ambulance but added that “we really need to make sure she’s willing to go.”
“She’s going to go, she’s going to go,”
Titchenell said. “Cause if not, she’s going to die, there’s nothing else.”
She then said that Kronk was not thinking clearly and informed him that she was her mother’s closest relation. Price them again asked if Kronk would in fact go, Titchenell replied: “OK, well, can we just try?”
After Titchenell told the operator that she was 10 minutes from her mother’s home, Price asked if she would call 911 back once she made sure her mother was willing to go in an ambulance.
“I’m sorry,” Titchenell said, and Price replied: “No, don’t be sorry, ma’am. Just call me when you get out there, OK?”
When Titchenell and her three children arrived at her mother’s house, she said, she was nude on the front porch and talking incoherently.
“She just kept saying she was OK, she’s fine,” Titchenell said. “She’s the mom, you know — she doesn’t listen to her children.”
Titchenell said she could not call 911 from the home because the landline could not be located and there was no cell service. She also did not call on her way home because she thought that her uncle would soon check on her and that another contact with 911 would be pointless.
“This is unheard of, to me. I mean, they’ll send an ambulance for anything,” Titchenell said. “And here I am telling this guy that my mom’s going to die. It’s, like, her death, and she doesn’t get an ambulance.”
Her brother found her the next day that their mother had died.
The prosecutor, Greene County District Attorney Dave Russo, said he is investigating if there was any policy or training for the county’s 911 dispatchers that allowed them to refuse services to callers.
“We all deserve equal protections, and we all deserve access to medical services,” Russo said in an interview. “I have a major concern as to the safety of the community in regards to this.”
Titchenell, on behalf of her mother’s estate, sued Price and Greene County in Pittsburgh federal court in June, along with two 911 supervisors. The lawsuit also accuses Price of “callous refusal of public emergency medical services.”