Detroit man dies while ambulance takes 46 minutes to arrive

Detroit man dies while ambulance takes 46 minutes to arrive

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(WJBK) -

Letrisica Day says she was walking with her father Thursday, January 9, 2014, when all of a sudden he collapsed in front of her Detroit house on Barlow. A neighbor helped her carry her father, Dwight Love, inside. They laid him on the couch and dialed 911.

That was 11:16 a.m.

A dispatcher told her help was on the way.

"I don't know what to think. I'm hysterical; I'm scared. I called family friends; I called my mom. Like I said, she instructed me to feel for a heartbeat and a pulse, and I did those things. And at the time I felt one," says Day.

But her father was slipping away and EMS was nowhere to be found. Her phone logs show Day called 911 three more times. An emergency crew finally showed up at 12:02 p.m. - 46 minutes later.

By that time her father was gone.

"I am very upset and angry, disappointed. ... You expect some emergency response right away, not 45 minutes to an hour from the time you call," says Day.

In response to the situation, Jonathon Jackson, the Interim Detroit Fire Commissioner, says "We are grieving right with them. We want to do better."

We're told the city had 19 units running at the time and all of them were tied up. The first one freed up was dispatched at 11:48 a.m., but it would take the crew another 14 minutes to get there, which Jackson says is unacceptable.

"It was an extremely busy time and there's just no excuse for the service that we're providing right now. We have to do better. This is a serious issue as this incident demonstrates," he says.

To make matters worse, because of Love's history of health problems, a police officer who eventually arrived determined an autopsy by the medical examiner wasn't needed. The body was released to the family and they were told to call the funeral home to remove him from the house, a process that took hours.

"It took approximately another three hours. So, basically, me and the family had a memorial right here in the living room because my dad lay here in the couch," says Day.

She can't help but feel the city and the system has failed her 54-year-old father twice. In 1981, Love was wrongly convicted of first-degree murder. He was charged after he was picked out of a flawed photo lineup. Love spent nearly two decades behind bars before his conviction was overturned and he was eventually released in 2001.

The family was still making up for lost time.

"They took his life once away from him and made him serve 20 years for a crime that he didn't commit. And, because of their lack of manpower or whatever it may be, his life is gone again. A this time he's not coming back to us," Day says.

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