It's a situation that virtually everyone would dread — a grievously injured friend in front of you, while you try to balance a 911 call to summon help with performing CPR. In other words, one of the most emotionally intense, fraught situations you could imagine. That's exactly what happened to a teenage girl in New Mexico last month, but then things apparently got even worse. An Albuquerque 911 operator hung up on the girl and her dying friend following an irritated exchange in which the girl swore at him.
Sadly, 17-year-old Jaydon Chavez-Silver died from a gunshot wound while at the hospital on June 26. According to KRQE, the shooting is being regarded as a possible drive-by, and Chavez-Silver an inadvertent victim, struck by a stray bullet after he arrived at a house party. KRQE quoted Sgt. Simon Drobik of the Albuquerque Police Department, who described the shooting as:
A possible case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And some low-life, like I said, shot into the house and [Jaydon Chavez-Silver is] now deceased, in the prime of his life.
But now, what happened on that 911 call is looming large in the public consciousness, too. It makes sense that people would be shocked and upset about it. While there's no way to know whether Chavez-Silver would've survived under different circumstances, the thought of being turned away by a 911 operator in the heat of the moment is pretty harrowing.
As reported by KOB 4, here's the relevant portion of the conversation between the operator, identified as Matthew Sanchez, and Chavez-Silver's friend, Esperanza Quintero. The way it plays out makes it seem like Quintero's use of a curse word set Sanchez off. He's since resigned from his position, with an investigation ongoing.
Sanchez: Is he not breathing?
Quintero: Barely ... Stay with me. Stay with me, OK. Good job Jaydon.
Sanchez: Is he breathing?
Quintero: He's barely breathing. How many times do I have to f---ing tell you?
Sanchez: OK, do you what ma'am? You can deal with yourself. I'm not going to deal with this, OK.
Quintero: No, he's going to die, I-
At that point, the line goes dead. According to KOAT, Albuquerque officials said that the operator's disconnection isn't believed to have slowed the arrival of emergency services, which had already been summoned. But the problems with a breakdown like this are obvious: In a time that called for calm and support, Quintero was left high and dry, and apparently given yet one more thing to worry about.
Sanchez was an employee of the Albuquerque Fire Department, which is clearly taking the situation seriously. Chief David Downey made a statement about Sanchez, as detailed by NBC News:
After learning of the alleged misconduct, Driver Matthew Sanchez was immediately removed from the dispatch center and placed on administrative assignment. An internal investigation has been initiated. As the Chief of the department, I am taking the allegation very seriously.
By virtue of Sanchez's resignation, the question of his future in the department has already been settled. But as NBC News details, the investigation will also look back on previous 911 calls from throughout Sanchez's more than three-year tenure as a dispatcher, to look for any other instances in which he may have acted improperly.
Images: NBC News