Dispatcher who didn’t send ambulance charged in 2020 death

Jul 7, 2022, 4:20 PM | Updated: Jul 8, 2022, 6:58 am
Kelly Titchenell sits on her porch in Mather, Pa., holding a photo of her mother Diania Kronk, and ...

Kelly Titchenell sits on her porch in Mather, Pa., holding a photo of her mother Diania Kronk, and an urn containing her mother's ashes, Thursday, July 7, 2022. A Greene County, Pa., detective last week filed charges against 911 operator Leon “Lee” Price, 50, of Waynesburg, in the July 2020 death of Diania Kronk, 54, based on Price's reluctance to dispatch help without getting more assurance that Kronk would actually go to the hospital. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

A Pennsylvania 911 operator faces a rare charge of involuntary manslaughter for failing to send an ambulance to the rural home of a woman who died of internal bleeding a day later, despite a plea from the woman’s daughter that without medical help “she’s going to die.”

A Greene County detective last week filed charges against Leon “Lee” Price, 50, of Waynesburg, in the July 2020 death of Diania Kronk, 54, based on Price’s reluctance to dispatch help without getting more assurance that Kronk would actually go to the hospital.

“I believe she would be alive today if they would have sent an ambulance,” said Kronk’s daughter Kelly Titchenell, 38.

Price, who also was charged with reckless endangerment, official oppression and obstruction, questioned Titchenell repeatedly during the four-minute call about whether Kronk would agree to be taken for treatment.

Price was arraigned June 29 and released on bail. He did not reply to messages left at a home number listed in his name, and officials said a defense lawyer has not contacted district court.

“It has to be very clear throughout the entire state, that when you call it’s not going to be conditioned on somebody on the other end of the phone saying there’s going to be a service provided or not,” said Lawrence E. Bolind Jr., who represents Titchenell in a federal lawsuit filed last month. “What we’re trying to do here is make this never happen to somebody else.”

In the 911 recording, an operator identified by police as Price replied to Titchenell’s description of her mother as needing hospital treatment by asking if she was “willing to go” to the hospital about a half-hour away from where she was living in Sycamore.

“She will be, ’cause I’m on my way there, so she’s going, or she’s going to die,” Titchenell told Price as she drove from her home in Mather.

Price said he would send an ambulance but then added that “we really need to make sure she’s willing to go.”

“She’s going to go, she’s going to go,” Titchenell said. “Cause if not, she’s going to die, there’s nothing else.” She said that Kronk was not thinking clearly and that she was her mother’s closest relation. When Price again asked if Kronk would in fact go, Titchenell replied: “OK, well, can we just try?”

After Titchenell told Price she was about 10 minutes from her mother’s home, Price asked if Titchenell would call 911 back once she made sure Kronk was willing to go in an ambulance.

“I’m sorry,” Titchenell said, and Price replied: “No, don’t be sorry, ma’am. Just call me when you get out there, OK?”

When Titchenell and her three children arrived at the house, she said, Kronk was nude on the front porch and talking incoherently. She got her mother to put on a robe.

“She just kept saying she was OK, she’s fine,” Titchenell said. “She’s the mom, you know — she doesn’t listen to her children.”

Titchenell said she could not call from the home because her mother’s landline could not be located and there was not cell service. She also did not call on her way home, believing that her uncle would soon check on her and that another contact with 911 would be pointless.

“This is unheard of, to me. I mean, they’ll send an ambulance for anything,” Titchenell said. “And here I am telling this guy that my mom’s going to die. It’s, like, her death, and she doesn’t get an ambulance.”

Her brother found the next day that their mother had died.

The prosecutor, Greene County District Attorney Dave Russo, said he is also investigating whether there was any policy or training under which the county’s 911 dispatchers were allowed to refuse services to callers.

“We all deserve equal protections, and we all deserve access to medical services,” Russo said in an interview. “I have a major concern as to the safety of the community in regards to this.”

John Kelly, a Naperville, Illinois, lawyer who is general counsel to the National Emergency Number Association, said criminal charges against dispatchers for failing to send help are very rare but have happened.

In a case Kelly teaches in dispatcher training, a 911 operator in Detroit received a year of probation in 2008 and lost her job after, authorities said, she did not take seriously a boy’s calls to report his mother had collapsed. The 5-year-old boy testified that the dispatcher accused him of playing games and hung up on him, while the dispatcher testified that she could not hear the child.

Titchenell, on behalf of her mother’s estate, sued Price and Greene County in Pittsburgh federal court last month, along with two 911 supervisors. The lawsuit accuses Price of “callous refusal of public emergency medical services.”

Marie Milie Jones, a lawyer for the county and 911 supervisors in the federal case, said her clients plan to vigorously defend the lawsuit and do not believe they are liable for Kronk’s death. She said there are “personnel matters that are ongoing” regarding Price but declined to elaborate.

“It’s unfortunate that this woman had died. Certainly, from a personal standpoint, that’s very difficult,” Jones said. “I’m not going to comment on the details of her circumstances.”

Titchenell told Price that her mother had been drinking heavily for some weeks before she died, and that Titchenell had noticed she was losing weight and was “turning yellow.” She said the autopsy concluded Kronk, who worked in home health care, died of internal bleeding.

She said she thinks about her late mother every day — how the former longtime sub shop manager loved to cook, to help people and to spoil her five grandchildren, how she would pile a mountain of presents under the tree every Christmas.

“She had the biggest heart,” Titchenell said. “If someone didn’t have a place to live, she was going to take them in, give them a bed. That was Mom.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy answers questions after his legal...
Luis Andres Henao, The Associated Press

After Supreme Court backs Bremerton praying coach, no sweeping changes

Three months after the decision, there’s no sign that large numbers of coaches have been newly inspired to follow Joseph Kennedy’s high-profile example.
17 hours ago
(Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

GOP candidate apologizes after antisemitic post surfaces

A GOP candidate for the Washington Legislature has acknowledged that a post he put on social media in 2020 is antisemitic.
17 hours ago
Joey Piscitelli, a member of Northern California SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Pri...
Associated Press

Advocates list 100s of allegedly abusive California priests

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Advocates for victims of clergy sexual abuse delivered a list of more than 300 publicly accused abusers to the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco on Thursday as they urged him to release his “secret” files on credibly accused priests. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests took aim at […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Hurricane Ian ‘street shark’ video defies belief

Photos and videos of sharks and other marine life swimming in suburban floodwaters make for popular hoaxes during massive storms. But a cellphone video filmed during Hurricane Ian’s assault on southwest Florida isn’t just another fish story. The eye-popping video, which showed a large, dark fish with sharp dorsal fins thrashing around an inundated Fort […]
17 hours ago
Colette Peters, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, speaks during the Senate Judiciary Commi...
Associated Press

New federal prisons chief vows to fix troubles, regain trust

WASHINGTON (AP) — The new director of the federal Bureau of Prisons vowed Thursday that “the buck stops with me” when it comes to fixing the crisis-plagued agency, ticking off a list of top priorities, from solving a staffing crisis to ending widespread misconduct. Colette Peters’ testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee — the first […]
17 hours ago
Robert Leisure surveys the wreckage of his business, Getaway Marina, which was destroyed during the...
Associated Press

Hurricane Ian sweeps away homes, memories on barrier islands

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. (AP) — On the road into Fort Myers Beach, cars are left abandoned in the roadway, where they stalled when Hurricane Ian’s storm surge flooded their engines and their drivers couldn’t continue. Broken trees, boat trailers and other debris litter the road. It’s even worse in the seaside tourist town, much […]
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Dispatcher who didn’t send ambulance charged in 2020 death