SEATTLE — The city of Seattle will pay $1.86 million to the family of a man who died of a heart attack after a caution note attached to his address delayed medics’ response.
William Yurek, 48, died in his town house in 2021 after his son called 911 and arriving Seattle Fire Department medics initially waited outside for law enforcement before entering, The Seattle Times reported.
The family alleged Yurek was wrongly included on a blacklist of people known to be hostile to police and fire crews. Yurek lived in the unit a couple of years before his death and the previous tenant had been on the outdated list, according to the lawsuit filed last year.
Medics were told to wait for a law enforcement escort, the lawsuit stated. As Yurek’s condition worsened, his then 13-year-old son called 911 again and was told help was on the way, even though medics had already arrived.
Medics then decided to enter the home without police, but despite their treatment, Yurek died.
“Once inside, medics did everything they could to save Will’s life,” the family’s attorney, Mark Lindquist, said in a news release. “The family has always been grateful to the medics who broke protocol to go in and do their best.”
The city has modified its operating guidelines on the caution notes, Seattle city attorney’s office spokesperson Tim Robinson told the newspaper, saying they expire after 365 days in the system, or get reviewed and renewed. Notes about the need for Seattle Police Department help because of alleged violent or threatening behavior are to be verified after every alarm dispatched to the address, Robinson said.
Relying on addresses, Lindquist said, puts renters and those who move often more at risk.
Seattle also agreed in August to pay $162,500 to a former 911 call center manager who in a lawsuit said he was wrongly punished for bringing up problems at work, including the dispatch practice of the blacklist.
A medical doctor said that without the delay, Yurek would have had a 25% chance of survival, Lindquist said.
“From the beginning, the family wanted the city to take responsibility,” Lindquist said. “That’s happened.”