06/07/2013 02:49 pm ET

FDNY Missed 911 Call After 4-Year-Old Ariel Russo Fatally Hit By SUV On UWS


By Nikhita Venugopal

MANHATTAN — A 911 call urging paramedics to the scene of an Upper West Side crash that killed a 4-year-old girl was missed by an operator — slowing their respose by minutes, the FDNY said.

Ariel Russo was killed the morning of June 4 when an unlicensed teen driver fleeing cops in an SUV hit her and her grandmother at Amsterdam Avenue and 97th Street, according to the police.

But an emergency call was missed because FDNY dispatchers were changing shifts, department spokesman Frank Gribbon said Friday at a press conference.

“They said they didn’t see it,” said Gribbon, referring to the operator who received the call for help on his computer terminal. “This involved a person not doing their job.”

The miss delayed response by about four minutes, Gribbon said. An ambulance was on the scene four minutes and eight seconds after that.

“Nobody made a decision here. Things sat there for three-and-a-half minutes or so,” he said.

The average response time for life threatening emergencies and cases of pedestrians struck is about six minutes and 30 seconds, said Gribbon.

The total time in Ariel’s case was about eight minutes. It's unknown if a faster response could have saved Ariel's life.

Police said the SUV's driver, Frank Reyes, 17, struck the toddler and her grandmother in his black Nissan Frontier about 8:20 a.m. after making a sharp left onto 97th Street off Amsterdam Avenue.

He was being pursued by police after driving erratically.

Both victims were rushed to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in cardiac arrest. Ariel was declared dead on arrival and her grandmother, Katia Gutierrez, was in stable condition, police said.