A Seattle man died of cardiac arrest after his 13-year-old son called 911 twice about him “barely breathing” and having a heart attack, according to his family’s lawsuit.
Before the boy dialed 911 a second time, medics were already outside his father’s apartment — waiting — on Nov. 2, 2021, a complaint filed in Washington state Superior Court in King County says.
After they arrived, first responders entered the apartment 13 minutes later, when their attempts to perform CPR and use a defibrillator on William Yurek proved unsuccessful, according to the complaint.
Yurek, a father of four children, died at age 46, according to personal injury attorney Mark Lindquist, who represented Yurek’s family.
Medics delayed saving Yurek because they were waiting for a police escort — as Yurek was mistakenly on an outdated “blacklist” of people considered hostile to first responders, according to the complaint, which says “a previous tenant had been on the (blacklist).”
Yurek’s apartment was “marked with a ‘caution note’ for reported hostility to Seattle Fire and Police,” the complaint says.
One year after Yurek’s family sued the city of Seattle over his death, their wrongful death lawsuit was settled for $1,860,000 on Oct. 2, Linquist announced in a news release.
“The family wanted justice. They wanted accountability. And they wanted the city to fix this issue so it didn’t happen to anyone else,” Lindquist told McClatchy News in a statement on Oct. 3.
“Our lawsuit achieved all this,” Lindquist added.
McClatchy News contacted Seattle city officials for comment on Oct. 3 and didn’t receive an immediate response.
About four minutes after Yurek’s son’s second 911 call, medics entered the apartment without waiting “any longer for police,” the complaint says.
“Once inside, medics did everything they could to save Will’s life,” Lindquist said in the news release. “The family has always been grateful to the medics who broke protocol to go in and do their best.”
Yurek’s three minor children will receive money from the settlement when they are adults, according to the release.
His son who dialed 911, and is now 15, plans to go to law school in the future, according to Lindquist.
“Now he won’t have to worry about paying tuition,” Lindquist told McClatchy News.
Lawsuit pushed Seattle to revise ‘blacklist’ guidelines
If Seattle’s blacklist protocol didn’t prevent medics from immediately responding to Yurek when they arrived at his apartment, he would have had a 25% chance of survival, according to some experts who reviewed the case, the release said.
An expert who testified on behalf of Seattle said Yurek’s chances of survival were lower than 25% because of prior “drug use and pre-existing medical conditions,” according to the release, which said Yurek was recovering from addiction before he died.
After Yurek’s family filed their lawsuit, Seattle revised its blacklist guidelines, according to the release.
A spokesman for Seattle’s city attorney’s office, Tim Robinson, confirmed this to the Seattle Times.
Any “caution notes” about Seattle residents will expire after one year, “or get reviewed and renewed,” according to Robinson, the newspaper reported.
Additionally, a spokesperson for the Seattle Fire Department told KIRO Newsradio in a statement regarding the lawsuit settlement that “caution notes about the need for (Seattle Police Department) assistance due to violent or threatening behavior are (now) to be verified after every response dispatched to the address.”
“A caution note is to be removed if SFD learns the occupant no longer lives at the address,” the spokesperson added, according to the outlet.
Ultimately, Yurek’s family believes the case was “resolved justly and fairly,” Lindquist said in the news release.
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