Family claims 911 mix-up led to daughter’s death after asthma attack
Ashley Flores' family filed a wrongful death claim against Los Angeles County and Sheriff Jim McDonnell, alleging that multiple 911 calls were misrouted
By Gab Ferreira
The San Luis Obispo Tribune
LOS ANGELES — Eleven-year-old Ashley Flores suffered an asthma attack and died on Christmas Eve.
Even though her family called 911 repeatedly, help didn’t come in time.
On Tuesday, her family filed a wrongful death claim against Los Angeles County and Sheriff Jim McDonnell, alleging that multiple 911 calls were misrouted, NBC 4 reported.
Flores’ 16-year-old sister, Dulce, called 911 multiple times and was put on hold before being routed to a fire station, where no one answered the phone, KTLA reported.
According to ABC, the sheriff’s deputy who answered the phone connected the call to a fire station instead of fire dispatch. On Thursday, police released one of the 911 calls.
“I tried calling you guys like five minutes ago,” Dulce says on the call, according to ABC, which broadcast the recording. “The baby’s not breathing, she’s ----ing purple!”
“Can you guys please hurry up, I think she’s dead!”
Flores’ aunt, Maggie, told CBS she got to the house about 15 minutes after Ashley stopped breathing and also called 911. She said at the time she thought she made the fourth call.
The family of 11-year-old Ashley Flores is filing a claim against the LA County Sheriff’s Department over her death this past Christmas Eve. The family says they called 911 at least five times as Ashley struggled to breathe during an asthma attack. pic.twitter.com/zXz68exjvC— Kris Ankarlo (@KrisAnkarlo) May 22, 2018
“I saw her just laying there, her lips were purple, her feet were purple,” she told the station.
Finally, another of Flores’ aunts, Norma, was able to get through to an L.A. County fire dispatcher, CBS reported. But it took more than 15 minutes and five attempts before the family reached help, according to the complaint.
By then, it was too late for Ashley.
“The doctor at the hospital who spoke to the family told them that if the response had been sooner, in his opinion, Ashley would’ve lived,” attorney Dale Galipo said at a news conference on Tuesday, according to KTLA.
Galipo also alleged that the sheriff's deputy who took the 911 calls "was totally inadequately trained to do that function," and had been taught to forward calls to the fire station instead of a fire dispatcher who could call the closest ambulance, according to NBC.
Flores’ family lives in Lynwood, just five minutes from St. Francis Medical Center, according to NBC.
“We extend our deepest heartfelt condolences to the family on the tragic death of Ashley Flores,” reads a statement from the sheriff’s department to NBC. “Clearly the death of this little girl is heartbreaking.”
Following her death, the family started a GoFundMe to raise money for her burial. As of May 24, it had raised $6,041 of a $2,000 goal.
"The family struggles day to day to come to terms with her sudden death," reads the GoFundMe's description, adding that Flores' family "is still left with the burden of having to pay for her plot and headstone."
The sheriff’s department told ABC in a statement that it does not comment on pending litigation, but Sheriff McDonnell personally reached out to the family to extend his condolences.
“All of us, including our families, rely on 9-1-1 in an emergency and we are committed to a complete review of what occurred, from the moment the first call came through,” the statement reads.
Copyright 2018 The San Luis Obispo Tribune