Monday, November 19, 2007

Only three minutes.......

Matilda "Tillie" Kovanich arrived at her home in Sanford FL, she began to bleed profusely from her right foot. The 83 year-old widow called 911 but was unresponsive to the operator who stayed on the line for over a minute and a half before trying to call back twice. Tillie was found dead in her home the next day after her concerned neighbors called 911 again.

It was not the fault of the 911 operator that Tillie wasn't discovered until the next day, that fault has been placed on Seminole County Deputy Michelle "Missy" Ashby, 38. She has now been found guilty of neglect and suspended for 30 days without pay for her investigation of Kovanich's home that day.

Ashby's woefully insufficient response includes waving off a back-up officer before she had even approached the home and for taking approimately three minutes there. She noticed the groceries sitting on the floor inside the side door and the car in the garage but she felt the locked front door and no response meant that things were all right.

The Volusia County Medical Examiner stated that Tillie died from a heart attack because of the blood loss she suffered and probably died within seconds of placing her call. Ashby arrived at the home within four minutes of the call to 911 and after her quick check, left. She didn't check her in-car computer for other 911 calls to Tillie's home in the past nor did she talk with any of her neighbors.

A review of Ashby's personnel file shows that she was well-liked and often praised by people she helped in the past. Some of the incidents cited involve her repeatedly checking on a 84 year-old widower in 1998 and in 2006, helping an Argintinian bicyclist who was seperated from his group by paying for his room out of her pocket. This behavior is part of the reason why she was only suspended and not fired, since it is felt that she is a good officer.

More telling though maybe, is the fact that she had been demoted from corporal in 2004 for failing to arrest and aquaintance who she knew was named in an arrest warrent and for using the departments equipment to run unathorized background checks on friends. Her failure to arrest someone she knew could be seen as just her good nature but using police equipment in that manner is a big step over the line of what is correct behavior.

Tillie's son, Joe Ruth, 59,of Wheaton IL, stated that he wasn't looking for vengence but he was a bit disappointed that it was only a 30 day suspension. I can fully agreed with him, 30 days is not long enough for her not doing the job she is paid to do. Ashby probably couldn't have saved Tillie but for her to spend almost as much time as the 911 operator did on that call and she was the patrol officer on foot......... that is woefully insufficient and does little to inspire confidence in the police department's response to an emergency.

1 comment:

CFL Radio: The Blog said...

The agency involved was the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, not the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.