Pennsylvania 911 operator who refused to send ambulance charged in 2020 death

The Pennsylvania 911 operator was charged with reckless endangerment

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An emergency 911 operator in Pennsylvania has been charged with manslaughter for not sending an ambulance to a home where a woman later died of internal bleeding.

Leon "Lee" Price, 50, of Waynesburg, was charged last week in the death of Diania Kronk, 54, who died in July 2020, after Kronk’s daughter dialed 911 for an ambulance to take her to the hospital, but one was never sent.

"I believe she would be alive today if they would have sent an ambulance," said Kronk’s daughter Kelly Titchenell, 38.

Kelly Titchenell sits on her porch in Mather, Pa., holding a photo of her mother Diania Kronk, and an urn containing her mother's ashes, Thursday, July 7, 2022. 

Kelly Titchenell sits on her porch in Mather, Pa., holding a photo of her mother Diania Kronk, and an urn containing her mother's ashes, Thursday, July 7, 2022.  (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

According to a legal filing, Price repeatedly questioned Titchenell about whether her mother would be "willing to go" to the hospital.  

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"She will be, 'cause I’m on my way there, so she’s going, or she’s going to die," the daughter said in the 911 recording.

In the recording, Price initially agreed he would request an ambulance to be sent to the residence before asking a couple more times if the woman would be willing to go to the hospital.

"We really need to make sure she’s willing to go," Price pushed.

"She’s going to go, she’s going to go," Titchenell repeated. "Cause if not, she’s going to die, there’s nothing else."

Kelly Titchenell sits on her porch in Mather, Pa., holding a photo of her mother Diania Kronk, and an urn containing her mother's ashes, Thursday, July 7, 2022. 

Kelly Titchenell sits on her porch in Mather, Pa., holding a photo of her mother Diania Kronk, and an urn containing her mother's ashes, Thursday, July 7, 2022.  (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

But Price refused to send the ambulance, a Green County detective said in the charges.

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The dialog ended shortly after Titchenell said she was about 10 minutes from Kronk’s home, at which time Price instructed her to call them back once she had spoken with her mother.

"Call me when you get out there, OK?" Price said in the recording.

Titchenell ultimately arrived at the home, finding her mother naked on the front porch speaking incoherently.

"She just kept saying she was OK, she's fine," the daughter said. "She's the mom, you know — she doesn't listen to her children."

Kronk did not go to the hospital and died the following day.

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"This is unheard of, to me. I mean, they’ll send an ambulance for anything," Titchenell 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."

Price was additionally charged with reckless endangerment, official oppression and obstruction.

Kelly Titchenell sits on her porch in Mather, Pa., holding a photo of her mother Diania Kronk, and an urn containing her mother's ashes, Thursday, July 7, 2022.

Kelly Titchenell sits on her porch in Mather, Pa., holding a photo of her mother Diania Kronk, and an urn containing her mother's ashes, Thursday, July 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Greene County District Attorney Dave Russo, who is prosecuting the case, is also investigating whether there was any official training or policy in place that allows 911 dispatchers to refuse services.

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

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Following the death, Titchenell announced a lawsuit last month against Price and Greene County in Pittsburgh. Two 911 supervisors are included in the lawsuit.

Marie Milie Jones, a lawyer for the county and the 911 supervisors, said her client is not liable in the "unfortunate" death.

"It's unfortunate that this woman had died. Certainly, from a personal standpoint, that’s very difficult," Jones said. "I’m not going to comment on the details of her circumstances."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.