Family of victim says slow 911 response led to young woman’s death

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LAKE COUNTY, Ind. --  A vigil was held outside the Lake County, Indiana 911 center where a local family mourned a promising young woman they say didn’t have to die.

19-year-old Justice Rutherford-Wilson of Hammond was badly hurt in a crash in Gary September 16th.  Justice was pulled from the wreck by passersby and 911 was called. Justice was breathing, conscious and alert while her rescuers waited with her by the side of the road for help her family says took much too long to arrive. Witnesses say she asked if she was going to die and she wanted to call her parents. But she never got that chance.

The Lake County, Indiana 911 center defends its actions that day. Director Brian Hitchcock tells WGN News, “The city of Gary’s ambulances were all on other calls at that time  - which happens quite often. We dispatched an ambulance right away. It was on the scene in 19 minutes.”

A similar statement was issued from Prompt Ambulance Service, which took the call.  They said,

“At the end of the day, the city was out of resources and reached out to someone they knew they could get help from. We responded in a timely fashion, but our nearest ambulance was quite a distance away. Unfortunately, the outcome was not a positive one."

But family and friends of Justice are calling for change. Had the seriousness of this crash been properly relayed to first responders, they say, Justice might still be alive.

Justice’s family has hired a Chicago attorney and is weighing its legal options.



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