MI Mom Dies, Child Lectured By 911 Operator

Published: Apr. 7, 2006 at 11:54 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 14, 2006 at 11:45 AM CDT
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New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

UPDATE, TUE, 6:30 AM: A 911 dispatcher thought five-year-old Robert Turner was "playing on the phone" when, in reality, his mom was dying.

And now, the family of the late Sherrill Turner has filed a lawsuit against the city of Detroit, asking for more than a million dollars and claiming the dispatcher was reckless to dismiss the child's plea for help.

Attorney Geoffrey Fieger says the little boy placed the call, just as he'd been taught, when his mother collapsed.

Authorities arrived hours later, after the boy's second call, but by that time Robert's mother was dead.

Two unnamed dispatchers are listed in the suit, but Fieger says the city is liable. The attorney says the mother had an enlarged heart, but contends she would have survived if help had been sent immediately.

UPDATE, TUE, 6:15 AM: A prominent lawyer says he plans to file a lawsuit over the death of a Detroit woman whose young son was unable to convince a 911 operator his mother needed help.

Geoffrey Fieger says 46-year-old Sherrill Turner had an enlarged heart and would've survived if help had been sent immediately.

After Turner collapsed, Robert placed two calls to 911. In the first call, Robert said his mother had passed out, but an operator asked to speak with an adult.

When he called back about three hours later, an operator told him, "You shouldn't be playing on the phone."

Police arrived after the second call. But Sherrill Turner was dead.

Fieger, best known for defending assisted-suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian, appeared on NBC's "Today" with the boy, Robert Turner, who turned six last month.

Previously:A desperate call for help was answered...with a lecture and treated like a prank.

That's what happened when six-year-old Robert Turner called 911 when his mom passed-out.

The Detroit boy's mother, 46-year-old Sherrill Turner, died February 20th. Robert says he called the operator to help.

Dispatcher: "Where's the grownups at?"
Robert: (unintelligible)
Dispatcher: "Huh? Let me speak to her before I send the police over there."

Robert says of the dispatcher on the phone, "I tried to tell them she wouldn'ttalk! I kept telling them - she wouldn't talk."

Confused, traumatized and scared the operator was going to get him in trouble, Robert hung-up the phone and started playing around the house, thinking about his mom and hoping she'd wake up.

When police finally arrived - more than three hours later, they discovered Robert's mother had died. Robert's family plans on filing a lawsuit.

There's no word on whether the dispatcher who took the call was reprimanded or not.