Wife suing Seattle over husband’s death, ‘decisions from leaders’ that slowed responders

Mar 24, 2022, 11:55 AM
seattle responders, police and fire, staffing...
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

The family of William Yurek — who died in his home in Seattle after suffering a medical emergency — filed a $10 million wrongful death claim against the city this week, claiming that “decisions from city leaders” that left first responders understaffed directly contributed to his death.

On Nov. 2, Yurek suffered what appeared to be a major cardiac event, as his 13-year-old son pleaded for help in two separate 911 calls while crucial minutes ticked by. When Seattle Fire arrived, they were told to wait for police before entering due to the address being flagged as unsafe for medical responders based on behavior from a previous tenant who was “known to be combative towards SFD and SPD.”

At the time, the nearest police precinct was down two officers, leaning on non-patrol volunteers to meet minimum staffing levels. Because of that, it took Seattle police 15 minutes to arrive, delaying medics from performing life-saving measures. Despite their best efforts, Yurek died, and now, Meagan Petersen — his ex-wife and the mother of their three children — is suing the City of Seattle.

“I was told that there was a 60% chance that his condition was favorable and they would have been able to bring him back if they had gone in when they got there,” she told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show. “From them having to sit outside for, I believe, 12 minutes, that lowered William’s chances of surviving to 20%.”

Petersen alleges that first responders “could have saved Will if the system was working like it should,” and now wants city leaders to “answer to the negligence on their part” that she says led to SPD’s still-ongoing staffing shortages.

Her attorney, Mark Lindquist, also points to a flaw in SFD’s system designed to flag homes where residents are known to be aggressive toward first responders, which did not account for the fact that the previous tenant in William’s apartment no longer lived there, meaning responders should have been able to enter immediately after arriving.

“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 a press release. “Seattle screwed up.”

Petersen’s claim against the city was filed Thursday. If it is not resolved within the next 60 days, a lawsuit will follow.

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Wife suing Seattle over husband’s death, ‘decisions from leaders’ that slowed responders