911 dispatcher charged with manslaughter after allegedly refusing to send woman an ambulance

·3 min read
Kelly Tichenell, right, and her mother, Diania Kronk, left, in an undated photo. Ms Kronk died after she was allegedly emergency services by a 911 dispatcher in Pennsylvania. (Kelly Tichenell)
Kelly Tichenell, right, and her mother, Diania Kronk, left, in an undated photo. Ms Kronk died after she was allegedly emergency services by a 911 dispatcher in Pennsylvania. (Kelly Tichenell)

A 911 operator in Pennsylvania is facing an involuntary manslaughter charge after he allegedly failed to dispatch help to a woman who needed medical assistance.

Leon "Lee" Price, 50, of Waynesburg, was charged in the 2020 death of Diania Kronk, 54. Ms Kronk bled to death a day after her daughter told the dispatcher that without help, "she's going to die."

Kelly Titchenell, 38, told The Associated Press that she believed her mother would still be alive if Mr Price had sent help.

“I believe she would be alive today if they would have sent an ambulance,” she said.

In addition to the manslaughter charge, Mr Price was also charged with reckless endangerment, official oppression, and obstruction.

When Ms Titchenell called on the night of her mother's emergency, Mr Price reportedly questioned her several times over whether or not her mother would agree to be taken for treatment.

“She will be, 'cause I’m on my way there, so she’s going, or she’s going to die,” Ms Titchenell said on the 911 call.

Mr Price reportedly said he would send an ambulance the half hour to pick her up, but insisted that "we really need to make sure she's willing to go."

“She’s going to go, she’s going to go,” Ms Titchenell said. “Cause if not, she’s going to die, there’s nothing else.”

Ms Titchenell said her mother wasn't thinking clearly, and told Mr Price that she was her mother's next of kin.

Mr Price was reportedly still not convinced that Ms Kronk would go in the ambulance, so he pressed Ms Titchenell again. She replied by saying "Ok, well, can we just try?"

Approximately 10 minutes before Ms Titchenell reached her mother's house, Mr Price asked if she would call 911 back to ensure her mother would agree to an ambulance.

Upon arrival, they found Ms Kronk naked on the front porch and incoherent. Ms Titchenell dressed her mother in a bathrobe. Her mother repeatedly told her that "she was OK, she's fine."

"She's the mom, you know — she doesn't listen to her children," Ms Titchenell said.

Unfortunately Ms Titchenell could not find her mother's landline and had no cell service at the home. Ms Titchenell eventually left her mother’s house and returned home. She told investigators she did not call 911 again because she felt without her mother present to verbally confirm she would get into an ambulance the call would be pointless.

“This is unheard of, to me. I mean, they’ll send an ambulance for anything,” she said. “And here I am telling this guy that my mom’s going to die. It’s, like, her death, and she doesn’t get an ambulance.”

Her brother found their mother dead the next day.

Mr Price was arraigned on 29 June and was then released on bail.

Ms Titchenell's lawyer, Lawrence Bolind Jr, said he hopes the case will prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

“It has to be very clear throughout the entire state, that when you call it's not going to be conditioned on somebody on the other end of the phone saying there's going to be a service provided or not,” he said. “What we're trying to do here is make this never happen to somebody else.”

The Greene County District Attorney is also investigating whether or not any policy or training exists that would allow 911 dispatchers to refuse help to callers.

“We all deserve equal protections, and we all deserve access to medical services,” Dave Russo, the DA, said in an interview. “I have a major concern as to the safety of the community in regards to this.”