Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Update Matthew Cantrell II

Family sues city of Murphy after toddler's death

12:00 AM CDT on Wednesday, May 20, 2009
By MARK NORRIS / The Dallas Morning News

MURPHY – A family whose toddler son died after getting tangled in a backyard soccer net in 2007 filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the city of Murphy and the officers who responded to the emergency.

The suit claims the 911 dispatcher and responding police officers wasted critical time that contributed to Matthew Cantrell's death.

"The failures here are monumental," said Patrick J. Boyle, the Cantrells' attorney. "It's just a series of calamities."

Murphy city officials said they could not comment on the suit until June at the earliest, when it could be presented to the City Council and city attorneys for review.

Matthew, who was 21 months old, became entangled in the net after his mother fell asleep in October 2007. When Ave Cantrell woke up, she cut her son loose and called 911. The dispatcher told her to remain calm and did not respond to her question of how she could help revive her son.

Murphy police officials have said previously that dispatchers are not supposed to give medical advice.

Also named in the lawsuit is a private company, East Texas Medical Center, which the city 911 operator brought on the line for additional assistance during Ave Cantrell's panicked emergency call.

The ETMC medic brought on the line did not respond to Ave Cantrell's pleas for help, according to the suit, and instead asked her address.

Elmer Ellis, ETMC president, said Tuesday that he had not received a copy of the lawsuit and could not comment.

Police officers listed in the suit are Chief William Myrick, Lt. Adana Barber and officers Kevin McGee and Clayton Dacey.

McGee and Dacey were the initial responders to the scene. Dacey moved Ave Cantrell and her other son into the master bedroom and away from Matthew, who was left alone on the couch. McGee went outside to wait for the paramedics and to contact his superiors, according to the suit.

The suit states that Myrick told McGee to treat the incident as a crime and secure the scene. When paramedics arrived, McGee stopped them and told them the boy was already dead, according to the suit.

Paramedics were able to restore Matthew's heartbeat, but he died a few days later because of complications.

The Cantrells have previously criticized Murphy officials for the way its 911 operators and police responded to the incident, but only now, they say, are they ready to handle a trial.

"It can bring about some closure and can be beneficial," said Michael Cantrell, Matthew's father. "It's important that individuals that were associated with that specifically be held accountable for their actions."

The Cantrells are not seeking a specific amount of money. The suit asks that the amount be determined by a jury.

The Cantrells successfully got nearly 190,000 MacGregor and Mitre folding soccer goals recalled in September 2008.