PA Dispatcher Facing Manslaughter Charges For Not Promptly Dispatching EMS

A dispatcher for Greene County, Pennsylvania is facing manslaughter charges for not promptly dispatching EMS to a request for medical aid in 2020. Leon “Lee” Price faces one count of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, official oppression and obstruction in the death of Diania Kronk.

Kronk’s daughter, Kelly Titchenell, 38, called 911 and spoke with Price who questioned her for four minutes about whether Kronk would agree to be transported. Titchenell was not at her mother’s house when she called but was enroute. Price instructed her to call back once she arrived and confirmed she wanted to be transported. Kronk, 54, died of internal bleeding the following day. The family is also suing the county, Price, and a 911 supervisor in federal court.

Quoting from the complaint:

  • On or about July 1, 2020 Titchenell received a wifi text message from her brother upon which Titchenell was informed that her mother, Diania Kronk, was “in a bad way.“ Immediately Titchenell got into her car to drive to her mother’s house (which does not have cell service.)
  • While driving to her mother’s house, Titchenell called Greene 911 seeking medical assistance for her 56-year old mother who was jaundiced, incoherent and bleeding from the rectum.
  • Titchenell was bluntly informed by the 911 Operator that no emergency services would be provided to her mother because it would be a “waste of resources.”
  • The 911 Operator (Defendant Price) said this despite the serious nature of the call was made clear by Titchenell’s pleading tone and description of what was seriously wrong with her mother.
  • This unlawful and callous refusal of public emergency medical services by the 911 Operator either intentionally put the Decedent in more risk or demonstrated malicious indifference to the risk that such a refusal of services would create.
  • At the time Titchenell was requesting emergency medial help for her mother, all of the available emergency vehicles and EMT personnel were at the 911 emergency call center waiting deployment to any emergency call.
  • No requested emergency services came that day as a result of Defendant Price’s actions, and as a proximate and/or direct result of the lack of emergency medical care, Diania Kronk died.
  • The Greene 911 operator never notified the local police of the medical emergency at the Plaintiff’s Decedent’s house.
  • Medical intervention by Greene 911 emergency service would have saved the Plaintiff’s Decedent, or at the very least would have ameliorated her suffering and allowed a more dignified passing.
  • Plaintiff’s Decedent was legally entitled to the same access to emergency services any resident or visitor to Greene County would have had.
  • Defendant Price had no authority, by statute or otherwise, to superciliously deny services to Plaintiff’s Decedent either with or without prior notice.

Here is a copy of the civil suit:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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