Detroit woman dies after child's 911 calls are neglected

Monday, April 10, 2006 The family of a Detroit, Michigan woman plans to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city after her six-year-old son's calls to emergency operators were allegedly dismissed as a prank. The family released the tapes of the emergency calls to the media on Friday.

Sherrill Turner, 46, died on February 20 of complications from an enlarged heart. Her son Robert made two calls to 911 to report the emergency.

"My mom is passed out," said Robert Turner when he called 911 the first time.

"Where's Mister Turner at?" asked the operator. Robert replied that his mother was unable to speak.

"Okay, well, I'm going to send the police over to your house to find out what's going on," added the operator, before hanging up on the boy. However, the police never came, and an ambulance was never dispatched to the home.

The boy called 911 three hours later, and reports say the operator who answered the call may have been the same operator that answered the first call. The operator asked to speak to the mother before saying "before I send the police over there." Then she said to the boy, "You shouldn't be playing on the phone. Now put her on the phone before I send the police over there to knock on the door, and you're going to be in trouble."

"It was taking too long," said Robert.

Delaina Patterson, the boy's older sister, who lives in Novi, Michigan, said that after 9:00 p.m. help did come, but only the police and no EMS or medical personnel.

The operator, whose name has not been released, remains on the job pending an investigation by city officials.