PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Union leaders and the family of a Hazelwood man who died waiting for an ambulance during a snowstorm last year are speaking out after a paramedic involved in the case was reinstated.
It was a year ago this month Curtis Mitchell was found dead in his home. For two days, he called 911 for help. It never arrived.
Now, the paramedic crew chief fired for not getting there has been reinstated with back pay.
"It knocked me down, I couldn't believe it," Mary Bey, Mitchell's aunt, said. "I said, 'Reinstated with back pay?' The way she talked, the way she cursed and treated my nephew like he wasn't even a human being, like his life didn't matter."
Union leaders say it's just not the case, calling paramedic Josie Dimon an excellent employee with a spotless professional record, saying she was ordered to leave Mitchell's neighborhood the night he died.
"They were told that he was walking to their truck," Paramedic Union President Anthony Weinmann said.
"They confirmed with an administrative chief. 'What are we to do?' Give him five minutes. If he doesn't show up, go back in service.
"That was because they were inundated with calls. They were ordered to go back in service. They were following a direct order," he explained.
Family members say bringing Dimon back on the job opens old wounds.
"You expect a paramedic to go beyond the call of duty to get to someone to save their life," Bey said.
Particularly disturbing to the family is a cell phone call Dimon made to a co-worker as she sat two blocks from Mitchell's home.
"If he ain't (expletive) coming down, I ain't waiting all day for him, Kim. What the (expletive). This ain't no cab service."
Union leaders say that was a personal cell phone call made at a difficult time.
"That was a private phone conversation on a cell phone to a fellow employee," Weinmann said. "She was frustrated. She was busy."
Family members say that's just not good enough.
"That's saying to her, 'Well, it was okay what you did,'" Bey said. "It was okay you didn't go. It was okay the way you talked to him while he was sick and in such pain. It's okay – you can do it again.'"
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