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Seattle ‘screwed this up,’ bereaved family prepares lawsuit involving delayed police response

Nov 26, 2021, 11:08 AM | Updated: 11:55 am
Will Yurek...
A Seattle fire truck. (Photo credit 'Loco Steve' via Flickr)
(Photo credit 'Loco Steve' via Flickr)

The family of Will Yurek is preparing to file a claim against the City of Seattle.

On Nov. 2, Yurek’s son Drew called 911 to report that his father was having a medical emergency. As KTTH’s Jason Rantz first reported, when Seattle Fire arrived six minutes later, they were told to wait for police before entering.

Rantz: 13-yr-old watches father die as staffing crisis likely delayed police, fire response

The address was incorrectly flagged as unsafe for Seattle Fire to enter. The last tenant living at the Yurek’s address was listed as being hostile to first responders, but the blacklist from Seattle Fire wasn’t updated. It took short-staffed Seattle police 15 minutes to arrive on scene, delaying medics from performing life-saving measures for Will Yurek.

Instead, Drew watched helplessly as his father died. Medical experts say Will Yurek had a good chance of surviving if paramedics had been able to treat him as soon as they got there.

“We’ll be filing a claim shortly,” attorney Mark Lindquist of the Herrmann Law Group told KIRO Radio. “We’re currently gathering additional information, but it’s already quite clear: The city screwed this up.”

Rantz says short staffing at the Seattle Police Department compounded the problem. Hundreds of officers have quit since the protests and riots of 2020, and nearly 100 more were taken off-duty in October due to the COVID vaccine mandate in place for city employees. Rantz contends this is a factor leading to the delayed response to the Yurek residence.

Under state law, a claim must be filed against the city before plaintiffs can file a lawsuit.

“The city made numerous mistakes here, but the most significant was they mislabeled Mr. Yurek as combative with law enforcement. He was not. They had the wrong guy,” Lindquist said. “Their list was outdated. And when you’ve got a list, and lives depend upon the accuracy of that list, your list has to be updated. It’s got to be accurate. Here, it wasn’t.”

The City of Seattle has a policy of not commenting on pending litigation. In response to earlier questions about the Yurek case, a Seattle Fire Department spokesperson said “we are carefully reviewing this incident from many angles in our department (operations, dispatch, etc.) and our Premise Notes Policy.”

Lindquist says 13-year-old Drew is devastated.

“Drew’s having a very tough time with this, as you might imagine; he’s angry. He doesn’t want people to even touch his father’s things. There’s a lot going on,” Lindquist said. “Not only did he lose his father, at a pretty critical age for a young man at 13, he watched it happen. And he knows it didn’t need to happen. He did the right thing. He called 911. And the city screwed it up.”

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Seattle ‘screwed this up,’ bereaved family prepares lawsuit involving delayed police response