On March 24, 2022, I filed a $10 million dollar claim against Seattle for the wrongful death of William Yurek. I represent Mr. Yurek’s adult daughter and the mother of his three minor children.
This was a tragic and preventable death that serves as a cautionary tale.
Mr. Yurek’s 13-year-old son did the important things right to save his father. Seattle, unfortunately, did the important things wrong.
On November 2, 2021, at 1:24 pm, Yurek’s son called 911 because his father was having a medical emergency at home. The 46-year-old Yurek had chest pains and difficulty breathing.
Medics arrived six minutes later. This is quick. They did not enter the residence, however, because they were told to wait for a police escort. Yurek was mistakenly on a outdated blacklist for hostility to first responders. A previous tenant had been on the list, but Yurek should not have been. The blacklist was outdated.
At 1:37 pm, Yurek’s son called 911 a second time, more desperate. His father’s condition was worsening. About 1:40 pm, medics decided to ignore the order to wait for police. They entered Yurek’s residence and applied a defibrillator and started CPR, but too late. Yurek died of a heart attack in front of his young son.
“When you’re keeping a list people’s lives depend upon, that list needs to be accurate and up to date,” I told reporters. “Seattle screwed up.”
Police arrived at the scene about 15 minutes after the first call. Due primarily to decisions from city officials, the Seattle Police Department was significantly understaffed. Firefighters and officers told reporters police would have been at the scene sooner but for the staffing shortage.
“People need to know how the city let this happen,” said Meagan Petersen, Yurek’s ex-wife and mother of his three minor children. “They could have saved Will if the system was working like it should.”
Meagan is correct. Medical experts believe Yurek had a good chance of survival if medics had been able to treat him as soon as they arrived.
In addition to his ex-wife and three minor children, Yurek is survived by his adult daughter Brooklyn.
Brooklyn told reporters her father taught her how to ride a bike, tie her shoes, and to appreciate art. She attributes her own artistic talent to him. She wants an apology and acknowledgment from the city that, “Their system is failing.”
You can hear the 911 calls in the Q13 story, including the erroneous assertion that Yurek was a danger to first responders, a mistake from the outdated blacklist. Almost all of the local media covered the story, including KOMO TV, Seattle Times, and local radio, including Jason Rantz, Ari Hoffmann, and John Carlson.
Rantz broke the story initially and it was picked up nationally, including by the New York Post and Associated Press. Many outlets used it as an example of dysfunction in Seattle and other cities.
The family is grateful for the medics who tried to save Will’s life. They understand city officials are to blame.
By the way, a civil claim is a necessary legal prelude to a lawsuit against a government entity in Washington State. Sixty days after filing the claim, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed if the claim is not resolved.
Please check back here as we move toward justice for the family. And, as always, please let me know if I can ever help with anything.
Update: I filed the lawsuit in December of 2022 after gathering additonal evidence. All four local TV stations covered the news conference and The Seattle Times did an follow-up article on the need for the city to change their process. More details to follow on this site and my firm Facebook page.