4-year-old Ariel Marina Russo, from New York City, was killed Tuesday in a car crash after an unlicensed teen driving an SUV feeing cops jumped a sidewalk near her school. A “human error” in the city’s 911 system caused a crucial delay of an ambulance headed to Ariel.
The accident happened when 17-year-old Franklin Reyes panicked when cops tried to pull him over, according to police. The SUV struck Ariel and her grandmother, who remains hospitalized in stable condition, while they stood on a street corner as they walked to Children Holy Name School on the upper West Side near their home. The girl was alive when paramedics arrived but died at the hospital.
The ambulance reaching for Ariel was 4 minutes delayed because a 911 Emergency Medical Service dispatcher didn’t immediately respond to the urgent call, according to FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano. Reyes has been arrested on manslaughter charges, and the dispatcher could face disciplinary action.
The News obtained 911 logs showing it took an unusually long 4 minutes and 18 seconds before an ambulance was dispatched to the scene.
Ariel Russo’s family will file a $40 million lawsuit against the city and emergency responders, according to the Daily News. The complaint by the parents of little Ariel charges the defendants, including the unlicensed driver, were careless and negligent in the child’s heartbreaking death.
“It took too long for them to get there,” Ariel’s mom Sofia Russo told The News, referring to a four-minute delay in getting an ambulance to the scene. “No other child should die because it takes too long. The ambulance system has to be fixed for the children of New York.”
Family attorneys Sanford Rubenstein and Ira Newman cited the city’s failure to quickly transport the mortally injured girl and her grandmother to a hospital after the crash. Notices of claim will be filed Wednesday, two days after little Ariel was buried in her favorite princess dress.
“This is a terrible tragedy which never should have happened,” said a statement from the lawyers. “We intend to hold accountable all those responsible civilly, and the family is fully cooperating with the Manhattan district attorney’s office.”
The suit will seek $20 million for the death of Ariel and $20 million for injuries to her 55-year-old grandmother, Katia Gutierrez, who suffered a broken back and a broken leg.