Society

D.C. Woman Says Her 77-Year-Old Father Died While Nearby Firefighters Ignored Pleas For Help

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Marie Mills says her 77-year-old father collapsed just across the street from a Northeast D.C. firehouse, but firefighters ignored pleas from bystanders to help the man.

Medric “Cecil” Mills, Jr. died of a massive heart attack on Saturday afternoon. His daughter was running errands with him when it happened. She says she could see a firefighter standing in the open doorway of Engine 26, but he didn’t move to help her father.

"I mean everybody was screaming and hollering at him across the street,” Mills told My Fox DC. “Why [couldn’t] he come? It's not making sense and I think it was three separate people who went across to the fire station.”

"He said something about his lieutenant and some type of authorization, and that he could not come and to recall dispatch and advise them that they needed to send somebody, and that the condition of the patient could be getting worse,” Mills said of the fireman. “When I saw my dad was having shallow breaths, I ran to the curb and started screaming for him to come and help my father.”

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Authorities say firefighters are being called in for questioning by Fire Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe, after the probationary firefighter trained in basic life saving told Mills he couldn’t help her until she dialed 911 and he was dispatched.

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray expressed deep concern over the troubling incident, the Washington Post reported.

“When you go to a fire station, you should expect that someone there is going to help you,” said the mayor’s spokesman, Pedro Ribeiro. “This gentleman was not served. We need to answer why he was not served.” The spokesman said that if there is some protocol requiring dispatch before help is rendered, “then protocol be damned.”

Some onlookers called 911.

Two sources familiar with the incident told My Fox DC that an ambulance and engine were dispatched from another location and sent to the wrong place.

"That's why my daddy lay on that ground,” Mills said.

Her father was a lifelong resident of D.C. and worked for the parks department.

"That's how much he loved Department of Parks and Recreation and his city,” his daughter said, “and he died in the city that didn't do anything to help him.”

The mayor called Mills and “apologized for what appeared to be a dereliction. We’re going to investigate exactly what happened,” Riberio said.

Edward C. Smith, president of the firefighters union, told the Washington Post that Engine 26 was out on a call when the incident took place.

“This shouldn’t have happened,” said Smith. “We need to find out why it happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. On behalf of all D.C. firefighters, I offer Mr. Mills’s family a sincere apology.”

Sources: Washington Post, My Fox DC