Aston family to sue Provo

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    By UNIVERSE STAFF

    Legal counsel and the family of Scott Aston made official their desire to file a claim against the city of Provo, citing negligence on the part of the city in seven specific points of concern.

    In October 2004, Scott Aston called 911, complaining of shortness of breath and head pain. Emergency dispatchers tried to get additional information, but Aston was able to give an address, then collapsed and the phone cut out.

    Provo police found Aston dead in his apartment four days later.

    In a press conference Monday at the Aston home, attorney Justin Heideman said city officials have failed to take responsibility in the death of the 30-year-old Provo resident; have attempted to cover up facts of the 911 Call Center?s failure; have made allegations against the family?s motives; have failed to provide any information without the family making a specific request; and have declined to turn over initial investigative reports.

    In addition, Heideman claimed the city has not provided information to the thousands of students in Utah County who rely on the 911 system and the risks associated with failures in tracking cellular phones. Also, he said the city has not properly trained, staffed or monitored its dispatch service in a proper fashion.

    In a written statement, city officials disclaimed the allegations being made by the family, and took a stand of respect and good will toward the Aston family.

    ?Provo city sincerely regrets the miscommunication that took place between Scott Aston and our 911 call-taker which resulted in emergency crews being unable to locate Mr. Aston and offer assistance,? the release states.

    Earlier in March, Provo City officials stated that a miscommunication between an emergency dispatcher and Aston prevented emergency medical response from finding the dying man.

    While talking with the emergency dispatcher Oct. 1, Aston told the male dispatcher the apartment number was ?nine fifteen.? However, the call-taker heard the number ?nine fifty? and because the call was made from a cellular phone, Aston’s address didn’t appear on the call-taker’s screen for verification.

    The system used by 911 Communications Center automatically displays landline addresses. Cell phones, however rely on transmission towers and cannot be recognized with the same technology.

    Despite repeating the address back to Aston with no correction, the call taker passed on the error to a dispatcher who sent paramedics to the address where they found only a care center facility.

    After searching for 15 minutes, knocking on other neighborhood doors and calling Orem and Springville dispatchers to check for similar addresses, the search was called off.

    Concerns from family members that they hadn’t heard from their 30-year-old brother-in-law lead police to discover Aston’s body four days later in his apartment.

    The family disclosed no specific amounts for damages filed Monday.

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