Flint, Michigan, is a troubled city. High crime, high unemployment, and broke coffers make life there difficult. And if you are in an accident, ambulance crews might not even get out of their vehicle to see if there is anyone needing help in your vehicle before they leave.

On July 18, there was a one-vehicle accident involving a car and a tree in Flint. Neighbors called 911 and the dispatcher sent an ambulance. The police were not sent because the police force is stretched too thin to respond to things like this.

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Witnesses differ on what happened next but an ambulance showed up at the scene and the EMS workers determined there was no one in the crashed vehicle and left. One neighbor has told the press that the EMS workers did not bother to get out of the ambulance before leaving.

A little over an hour later (closer to sunrise) a neighbor went out to look at the wrecked car and noticed a dead person in the car. Curious as to why the EMS crew had come and gone without assisting, the neighbor called 911. In all, 911 was called 5 times. A second EMS crew was sent to the scene and confirmed that there was a person in the wrecked car and the occupant was deceased.

If the first crew on the scene - who had arrived within a minute of being dispatched - had assisted the victim, might he have lived?

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We don’t know now but litigation will certainly ensue. And whoever ends up paying will probably end up using money which could have gone to a much better purpose. You know, like paying to have more police on the streets or a better trained EMS force.

I’ll keep you updated. I’ve always had a fondness for Flint (I used to work as a disk jockey and a talk show host there).

Follow me on Twitter: @stevelehto

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Steve Lehto has been practicing law for 23 years, almost exclusively in consumer protection and Michigan lemon law. He wrote The Lemon Law Bible and Chrysler’s Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit’s Coolest Creation.

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