Accident victim's sister critical of call handling - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Accident victim's sister critical of call handling


MADISON (WKOW) -- The sister of a man who died accidentally in an idling car on a Madison street told 27 news a neighbor's call about the car was mishandled by a 911 Center operator.

"I think they were lazy, they didn't want to do their job,"  Jennifer Samuelson of Hibbing, Minnesota told 27 News.  

"They didn't care."

On Mar. 7 at 9:57 a.m.,  a woman, 79, called a non-emergency number to alert authorties to a car idling for half an hour near her home on Cumberland Avenue.   The call lasted twenty three seconds, with the woman asking if the street idling was legal, and the operator responding with one word answers.   The woman told 27 News she hung up in frustration.

Nearly eight hours later, a 911 call alerted authorities to the presence of Farrell Kurlish, 32, in the back seat of the car.   Authorities said Kurlish died accidentally, with carbon monoxide poisoning a factor.

Samuelson told 27 News the earlier call should have led to a response.

"They received a call that a car was idling for that period of time, why someone wasn't at least dispatched just to drive by, just to take a look?" 

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk has said the information provided to the 911 Center operator was scant and made no reference to any safety issue.   Falk has said the call was handled appropriately.

Several hours before the woman's call about the car idling, Madison police officers had taken Kurlish to an area hotel to diffuse a dispute between Kurlish and his wife.   Samuelson told 27 News her brother had no money for the hotel and returned home and retrieved the car.   Samuelson said her brother was going to rest in the car until a hotel room arranged by Samuleson was available for check in.

Dane County coroner John Stanley has not determined Kurlish's time of death, although police reports indicate it could have been as late as 11 a.m.

Samuelson said she realizes it's unknown whether a different response to the neighbor's call would have made any difference for her brother.  But Samuelson said the operator's actions infuriate her.

"They didn't care."


To comment, or provide more information, contact reporter Tony Galli:




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