Seattle to pay out $1.9 million to family after delayed police response resulted in fatal cardiac arrest

An outdated blacklist for hostility to first responders was created for a previous resident.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
On Monday, the family of William Yurek settled a lawsuit against the City of Seattle for $1,860,000.

The suit was filed in October 2022 following a Nov. 2, 2021 tragedy during which Yurek's 13-year-old son called 911 because his father was having chest pains and difficulty breathing.

However, the address was accidentally on an outdated blacklist for hostility to first responders because of a previous tenant and according to the city’s policy, police are required to enter the domicile to secure the scene for other first responders. 

The teen can be heard on 911 recordings saying, "My dad I don’t know, he can’t breathe or something. He’s not okay. I think he’s having a heart attack or something. He’s making this weird noise from his throat. A gurgling noise.”

Fourteen minutes after the first 911 call, Yurek’s son called a second time. According to a statement to The Post Millennial from the family attorney Mark Lindquist, “Yurek's son had the presence of mind to not only call 911 but to call a second time when the medics seemed to be taking too long.”

After the second call, medics decided to go in without an escort, but at that point, it was too late, and the 13-year-old watched his father die from cardiac arrest.

"Once inside, medics did everything they could to save Will's life," Lindquist said. "The family has always been grateful to the medics who broke protocol to go in and do their best."

Lindquist alleged the city was negligent in at least two ways: Failing to keep an accurate and updated list, and continuing to require police escorts for medics even though it was well-known the Seattle Police Department was understaffed and officers were likely to arrive late following the defunding of the police by the Seattle City Council and an exodus of over 600 officers from the department.

According to The Seattle Times, following the incident, a whistleblower came forward and specifically warned the city about the problems in 911 response times and that something like this could happen because the police are so short-staffed.

Lindquist told The Ari Hoffman Show on Talk Radio 570 KVI, that there have likely been other incidents where the police were delayed because they were understaffed, but that their patients didn't suffer because of it. “Nobody died, nothing went horribly awry because of the delay. In other words, it was kind of a no harm, no foul delay…but I believe that if there had been serious consequences, we would know about that.”

According to Lindquist, the city has announced it was revising its guidelines on the use and maintenance of the blacklist, referred to as "caution notes." At the time of the incident, residents weren't informed when their addresses were flagged. The practice disproportionately puts lower-income people at risk because they move more frequently.

"The family wanted justice and accountability," said their attorney Mark Lindquist. "They are pleased the case was resolved justly and fairly. Additionally, we are pleased the city took steps to fix this issue so it won't happen again."

Yurek is survived by three minor children who live out of state and an adult daughter who lives in the Seattle area.
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