Thursday, May 21, 2009
Family sues City of Murphy over toddler’s death
The family's suit charges that city employees recklessly delaying life saving measures that might have prevented the child's death.
It's been 17 months since the tragic death of 2-year-old Matthew Cantrell. The Murphy toddler became entangled in a back yard soccer net and was strangled.
There has been much controversy concerning the City's emergency response to Matthew's mother's 9-1-1 call. The city has issued two somewhat contradictory reports on the incident - both exonerated city staff.
Neither report has satisfied critics (this author included).
Yesterday the aftermath of the death of young Matthew took a new direction. Matthew's parents filed a federal law suit against the city, the 9-1-1 dispatcher and the ambulance provider.
The family's suit charges that the City police, 9-1-1 operator and ambulance crew violated the constitutional rights of the Cantrells by recklessly delaying life saving measures that might have prevented the child's death. The suit seeks unspecified punitive and actual damages.
The family also engaged a public relations firm to handle publicity. The Collin County Observer received the following press release from the Dallas PR firm of Allyn Partners:
A Parent’s Worst Nightmare: Why Didn’t Murphy First Responders Try to Save 21 Month Old Matthew Cantrell?
Father says son’s life could have been saved if only police would have tried; 911 operators wasted critical minutes; officers failed to administer CPR and incorrectly pronounced Matthew Cantrell dead, blocked paramedics from assessing the child.
Murphy, TX, May 20, 2009 – The City of Murphy and the East Texas Medical Center are named as defendants in a federal lawsuit filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas because of their complete failure to try to save a 21 month old boy, says the victim’s father, Michael Cantrell.
According to Matthew’s father, city officials, 911 operators and first responders behaved in a way that would horrify Murphy residents.
In October 2007, Cantrell’s 21 month old son, Matthew, accidentally strangled himself in a backyard soccer net. The 911 operator would not instruct Matthew’s mother, Ave Cantrell, how to administer CPR, despite her eight different pleas for help and requests for CPR instructions that can be heard on the call. Ave's call was then transferred to a medic at East Texas Medical Center, who also refused to give her CPR instructions or any other help with her son. Then, either the 911 operator or the ETMC medic simply hung up the phone on her upon the arrival of first responders.
First responders on the scene, Officer Kevin McGee? and Officer Clayton Dacey, forcibly removed Mrs. Cantrell as she was attempting to save her son. Officer Dacey imprisoned Mrs. Cantrell in the master bedroom with his hand on his pistol. Officer McGee? tried to prevent paramedics from entering the house, stating to the paramedics that Matthew was dead and this was a crime scene. The police officers were wrong; Matthew was still alive and additional precious minutes were wasted. Matthew Cantrell died three days later in the hospital.
“My son Matthew should be alive today, and would have celebrated his third birthday in January. But he’s not. When you call 911, you think they’re going to help. But here, no one tried to help – not the 911 operator, not the Murphy police officers who were first on the scene. Not one of them tried to save my boy’s life . . . that’s what first responders are supposed to do – administer CPR,” said Matthew’s father, Michael Cantrell. “No parent should ever have to bury a child. It goes against nature and is beyond devastating. It happened to us because they didn’t try to save him. We can’t let this happen to anyone else.”
The complaint names as defendants: City of Murphy and East Texas Medical Center and the following city officials and agents in their individual capacities – Police Chief William Myrick, Officer Kevin McGee, Officer Clayton Dacey, Lieutenant Adana Barber and ten John Doe individuals.
A Troubled Police Department. Officer Kevin McGee, a defendant named in this lawsuit, was sued in 2008 for using excessive force against a minor. Officer Kevin McGee and Lieutenant Adana Barber were also involved in the controversial 2006 “To Catch a Predator” sex sting operation. Lieutenant Barber was the subject of a 2007 Esquire article on the suicide of a sex sting suspect, former Collin County District Attorney Bill Conradt.
Protecting Children. Mr. Cantrell’s lawsuit names only the parties who acted negligently in response to Matthew’s tragic accident. After Matthew’s death, due in part to the Cantrell’s efforts, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled the 5‐inch by 5‐inch soccer net Matthew became tangled in.
Mr. Cantrell also commended the staff of Medical City Children’s Hospital:
“I’d like to thank the professional and compassionate staff from Medical City Children’s Hospital of Dallas. From the nurses to the neurologists, everybody at Medical City Children’s Hospital acted quickly and resourcefully to try to save Matthew’s life. They did everything they could to help my son… a stark contrast to the series of events that transpired previously.”
Pegasus News Content partner - The Collin County Observer
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