Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Update Matthew Cantrell I

Please keep this young family in your prayers. I do so hope we get to meet them while we're in Fort Worth.

Parents of tot killed in net strangling sue Murphy

12:49 AM CDT on Wednesday, May 20, 2009


MURPHY - Murphy parents who lost their toddler when he accidentally hung himself in the family soccer net have filed a lawsuit against the city in hopes for change.

Michael Cantrell lost his one-year-old son, Matthew, in 2007.

"Unfortunately, I know it to the day, 19 months and 16 days," he said of the exact date the tragic accident happened.

While the soccer nets involved in the accident have been recalled, Cantrell said there is one more step left. Cantrell said the 911 emergency response and the Murphy Police Department's actions at the scene were unacceptable and appalling.

The day of his death, Matthew wondered outside of the home and became entangled in the family's soccer net. His mother, Ava Cantrell, said she had dozed off on the couch at the time of the accident.

"I blame myself every day," she said.

But the alleged actions of three police officers and Murphy's former police chief, Kevin McGee, has led the Cantrells to file a suit against the city, not for money but for change.

According to the Cantrells, the problems started as soon as Mrs. Cantrell called 911 for help after discovering Matthew.

"Please, please, my son choked," she told the dispatcher. "He got strangled. Oh my God ... Please tell me what I need to do."

Mrs. Cantrell repeated the question eight times before being transferred to an EMT. Mrs. Cantrell said all the operators refused to give her medical advice to help her son.

And according to paramedic statements, they said when they arrived on the scene, McGee stood with his arms spread apart to stop the crews from entering the home to help Matthew.

"He is gone," said McGee according to the documents. "This is a crime scene."

"A police officer just left him there to go outside to put up crime scene tape," Mrs. Cantrell said.

But paramedics forced their way in and said they found that Matthew was still alive. He lived for three more days.

"I could not handle waking up tomorrow and hearing of a similar situation taking place knowing that I could do something about it," Mr. Cantrell said.

The lawsuit aims for better training of officers and a revamping of what Mr. Cantrell called a "defunct" 911 response system.

"I take my older son to bed every night," he said. "I go right by the bedroom where I used to read them stories together."

Matthew's pictures and handprints hang on the walls of the Cantrell home.

"We'll meet again," Mrs. Cantrell said. "We'll be together. I hold on to that."

The city said they will not talk about personal issues, which means there is no information available on disciplinary action, if any was taken at all, against the officers. But, to date, they are all still on the force.

Murphy's city manager said he can't comment on the case for at least a few more weeks.