Lawsuit: 911 dispatcher failed to send ambulance after yak attacked Ore. man
The lawsuit claims dispatchers failed to send help, even though 13 seconds into the call, the 911 system pinged Brian Wing’s location
By Aimee Green
The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.
BEND, Ore. — The wife of a 39-year-old central Oregon man gored to death by a yak on his hobby farm is suing Deschutes County’s 911 for $7 million, saying a dispatcher failed to send an ambulance when the man called and tried to ask for help.
Brian Wing moaned in pain but was unable to speak clearly after he dialed 911 on his cell phone from his Redmond area farm on Aug. 16, 2017, according to the lawsuit filed last week. Dispatchers failed to send help, even though 13 seconds into the call the 911 system pinged Wing’s phone and determined it was in the vicinity of one of his neighbors’ lots, the suit states.
The 911 system also had records of responding to his cell phone number at his precise home address in the past, according to the suit.
Wing was gored in the leg by one of the horns of the yak, which was enclosed in a wire mesh fence and pierced Wing’s leg as he walked by, said Tim Williams, a Bend attorney representing Wing’s estate.
Nearly an hour later, Wing’s wife, Valerie Wing, arrived home, followed a trail of blood and found her husband unconscious and bleeding on their front porch, the suit says. She called 911 and an ambulance arrived within seven minutes, but doctors and medical staff were unable to save Brian Wing. He was pronounced dead at St. Charles medical center in Bend about 10:20 p.m., more than nine hours after he was injured.
Representatives from the Deschutes County 911 Service District didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
Williams said he has spoken to emergency medical staff who treated Wing and learned this was not a case in which he would have died if medics had been dispatched to that first 911 call.
“He not only would have lived, they would have been able to save his leg, too,” Williams said.
Williams referred to an entry in Deschutes County’s 911 operations manual, which states that emergency services are to be “dispatched as soon as possible” if a dispatcher receives a call from a landline but the caller hangs up before stating the emergency or explaining the call was made by accident. The operations manual notes a problem with such calls from cell phones: Identifying the caller’s location might stand in the way of sending help.
But the lawsuit states that the 911 system should have known where to send help to Wing in August 2017 –because three years earlier he’d called 911 or the sheriff’s office from his cell phone after his neighbors allegedly were fighting, and responders were dispatched to his home address.
Three months before his death, he also had summoned help from his cell phone to report several dogs attacking his yaks, and the 911 system dispatched authorities to his home address, the suit states.
Williams said it’s important for 911 to send help when a person can’t articulate the reason for the call because the person might be seriously wounded or might have covertly called 911. The latter could be the case in which the caller doesn’t want to tip off a kidnapper or home intruder who poses a danger.
On the afternoon Wing was gored by the yak, he was severely distressed and unable to articulate what had happened, the suit states.
“We believe he became delirious due to the blood loss,” Williams said. “He was panicked.”
Two minutes into Wing’s call, the 911 system ended the call. A dispatcher immediately phoned back but got no answer. A minute later, the dispatcher phoned back again and left a voicemail stating: “You called 911. If this is an emergency, call us back.”
Wing was unable to call back, the suit states.
“Rather, he either walked or crawled to the front porch, where he collapsed,” the suit states.
The Wings lived in the 6600 block of Southwest McVey Avenue. His wife has since moved from the property.
Wing was a research forester with the U.S. Forest Service, and held a doctorate from Oregon State University, according to his obituary. He is survived by his wife and a daughter, who was a toddler at the time of his death.
The lawsuit was filed in Deschutes County Circuit Court.
©2019 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)