PITTSBURGH - With her boyfriend in severe abdominal pain, Sharon Edge called 911 for an ambulance in the early morning hours of Feb. 6. Heavy snow was falling - so heavy it would all but bring the city to a standstill - and Curtis Mitchell needed to go to a hospital.
"Help is on the way," the operator said. It never arrived.
Nearly 30 hours later - and 10 calls from the couple to 911, four 911 calls to them and at least a dozen calls between 911 and paramedics - Curtis Mitchell died in his home. His electricity knocked out, his heat long off, the 50-year-old former steelworker waited, huddled beneath blankets on his sofa.
Now Pittsburgh officials say emergency responders must go to the door of a 911 caller, no matter what. Public safety director Michael Huss says Mitchell might have survived if he had been carried out to the ambulance. An investigation is under way and six ambulance medics could be disciplined.
Mitchell, on disability for depression, had a history of pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, Edge, 51, said, and had spent nine days in a hospital in late January. He had been home about a week when he was overcome with pain. Autopsy results are pending, awaiting toxicology test results, authorities said.