Scottsdale Fire Station's Automatic Doors Crush Toddler To Death

By Tanya Diente, Parent Herald July 02, 01:10 am
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Dan and Courtney Reiss plan to sue the city of Scottsdale for $9 million over the wrongful death of their 16-month-old son at the city's firestation.
(Photo : ABC 15 Arizona | YouTube)

Dan and Courtney Reiss plan to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Scottsdale, Arizona, for the loss of their 16-month-old son, who died after he was crushed by an automatic door at the city's fire station.

Tragic Death

On Feb. 3, Dan and Courtney took Joey to visit his uncle Kris Elliott, who was on duty as a firefighter. Elliot told authorities that he had invited Joey, his wife, daughter, and stepdaughter for a tour around the fire station. He gave the older children a fire truck ride around the station's parking lot and left Joey and his 1-year-old daughter with their mothers at the station.

Elliot recalled seeing Courtney looking distraught and knew something was wrong. He later learned that the young Joey was involved in a terrible accident.

The accordion-style door at the station, which automatically closes in a timer after a firetruck leaves, had crushed the 16-month old. Firefighter David Bruns, who was at the station's kitchen at the time the accident happened, recalled hearing a "blood-curdling scream" and ran out to see Courtney pointing to her son trapped between the door. Burns rushed to pry open the door before it stopped and Courtney pulled out Joey and handed him to Captain M.D. Clark, who performed CPR on the boy in the kitchen.

Clark said she heard the mom scream "No, no, no, no" and rushed to push open a button to open the door while Burns pried it open. Meanwhile, Elliot took his sister-in-law away from the scene and consoled her.

"I didn't want her alone. ... I couldn't imagine it being my one year old. So I kinda just did my best to shield her from as much trauma," Elliott told police.

Sadly, Joey was later pronounced dead at a hospital from injuries to the skull and brain. The young boy's organs have since been donated. His heart went out to a 4-month old baby girl, his kidneys to a 50-year-old woman, and his liver to a 2-year-old girl.

Wrongful Death

However, the anguish that Dan and Courtney felt from the death of their only child took its toll emotionally and financially. They are both in counseling and missed a tremendous amount of work time.

Now, the Reiss family plans to sue the city for their son's death, which they believe was not accidental and could have been prevented by the city of Scottsdale.

"It's a wrongful death caused by the City's negligence... With no warning whatsoever, the doors at Bay 1 quickly and violently slammed shut on Joey. Courtney stood in disbelief; it happened so fast she had no time to react and save her little boy. She tried to pull the doors apart but wasn't strong enough," wrote the couple's attorney, Steven Hulsman, in a claim against the city.

The city of Scottsdale responded to the claim and expressed their condolences to the Reiss family. However, the city disputed "a number of the facts contained in the claim and "will vigorously defend the matter. "

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