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Newspaper: City Offers Settlement in 911 Mishap

Newspaper: City Offers Settlement in 911 Mishap

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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- City officials have offered a financial settlement to the family of a man who died waiting for medical help that never arrived because dispatchers sent emergency crews to the wrong address, a Salt Lake newspaper said.

Neither the city nor Scott Ashton's family would disclose terms of the proposed settlement, the Deseret Morning News said Monday.

The family said city officials told them the offer will be yanked if they sue. City spokeswoman Raylene Ireland confirmed the city's offer would be void if a lawsuit wee filed, but settlement negotiations still could be renewed, if the city was so inclined.

The Astons aren't entirely pleased with the amount offered by the city, but also don't want to jeopardize the offer made to Aston's widow, Josefina, a native of the Dominican Republic.

A lawsuit filed by the family would be about accountability, said Aston's sister, Carol Davis of Kearns.

"It's not about the money," she said. "We'd all rather be homeless and have Scott here."

Family members in Pennsylvania and California will fly to Utah to make an announcement next month.

They plan to tell Provo residents that city officials won't release to them all of the reports and documents surrounding Aston's death, the newspaper said.

The city also has refused a Deseret Morning News request to release the reports.

"They want the information," Davis said of her parents and siblings. "And the only way to get it is filing a suit."

Ireland said the family already has the bulk of the information gathered and would learn little to nothing from unreleased documents.

"We rolled out as much information as we possibly could. I believe every issue of any significance in this situation has been made public," Ireland said.

Aston, 30, died Oct. 1 of unknown causes. He used his cell phone to call 911 from his apartment at 915 N. 500 West in Provo. The dispatcher misheard the address and sent to emergency personnel to 950 N. 500 West, a nonexistent address.

Aston was found dead in his apartment on Oct. 5.

The dispatcher who took the call was fired, and a second dispatcher was disciplined.

The city refused a request by the Morning News to release the reports generated by the city's internal investigation and an external investigation by Ogden police.

The newspaper requested the reports last month under the Government Records Access and Management Act, but city officials said those documents are protected under GRAMA because they were "prepared in anticipation of litigation."

The newspaper has filed an appeal with Provo Mayor Lewis Billings. The paper also filed a GRAMA request with Ogden but was denied its report. The paper has appealed that decision and is waiting for the Ogden city recorder to schedule a hearing.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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