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Lawsuit says medics waited for police escort outside home while man had heart attack

The lawsuit said medics arrived six minutes after the initial 911 call, but did not enter for 13 minutes because they were waiting for a police escort.

SEATTLE — The family of a Seattle man who died from a medical emergency in November 2021 filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city Thursday, alleging that negligence reduced his chances of surviving.

William Yurek, 46, had chest pains and difficulty breathing on Nov. 2, 2021 just after 1:15 p.m., according to the lawsuit, which is asking for $10 million. The man's 13-year-old son called 911 during the medical emergency.

"My dad... I don’t know, he can’t breathe or something," the teenager said on 911 audio tape detailed in the lawsuit. "He’s not okay. I think he’s having a heart attack or something...He’s making this weird noise from his throat...like a gurgling.”

Mark Lindquist, the family's attorney, said in the lawsuit that emergency medics arrived about six minutes after the initial call, but they did not enter because they were waiting for a police escort. The 46-year-old's residence was on an "outdated" blacklist for hostility to first responders, the lawsuit said. A previous tenant had been on the list, but the family's attorney said Yurek should not have been. The lawsuit alleges that city employees admit the list was "outdated and mistaken."

About 20 minutes later, the son called 911 a second time, saying his father's condition was worsening.

"He is barely breathing, and he wasn’t like this before, I am just really worried,” the boy said on the 911 call.

The 911 dispatcher told the teenager they had "people on the way" but the medics were still waiting for a police escort.

The lawsuit said medics entered five minutes after the second call, without police ever arriving. Yurek died of a heart attack shortly after.

"Seattle screwed this up several different ways," Lindquist said. "Most importantly, when you're keeping a list people's lives depend upon, that list needs to be accurate and up to date. This one wasn't."

Lindquist said in the lawsuit that medical experts believe Yurek's chances of surviving diminished by 7-10% every minute medical aid was delayed. The experts believe he had a very good chance of surviving if medics had administered aid as soon as they arrived, according to the lawsuit. 

In total, there was about a 13-minute delay from the time medics arrived to the time they finally entered and administered aid.

The wrongful death lawsuit claimed Seattle was negligent by failing to keep an accurate or updated blacklist, requiring police escorts for medics even though the Seattle Police Department was historically understaffed, and 911 dispatchers failing to tell his son to apply CPR and telling him "help was on the way" when medics were already at the location. 

The City Attorney's Office said it is aware of the lawsuit and is reviewing the claims. However, it is unable to comment on pending litigation.

Yurek is survived by the mother of his three minor children and an adult daughter. 

"People need to know how the city let this happen," said Meagan Peterson, the mother of Yurek's three children. "The medics could have saved Will if the system was working like it should."

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