Baby chokes to death
May 23, 2008
Churchgoers panicked Sunday when they knocked on the door at the fire station in Pinebrook and no one was there.
"That fire station is supposed to have somebody there 24 hours a day," Summit Park resident Lynne Finney said.
Lucia Jackson, 2, died in the hospital Thursday night after choking on a piece of fruit at church Sunday in Pinebrook.
Jackson died "because she was without oxygen for a period of time," said Pinebrook resident Ted Barnes, bishop of the Kimball ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"She never regained consciousness," he said.
The congregation desperately sought help from the Park City Fire District at 2575 W. Kilby Road when the child began to gasp. But firefighters were all out on calls.
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"We had just gotten out of our meetings when somebody started hollering for help," said Snyderville Basin resident Larry Huckstep, who attends the church in Pinebrook. "It’s always a concern when you see a lifeless little body, two years old, laying there."
Grief overcame the baby’s mother, he explained.
"We helped carry the mother because she just collapsed under the stress of it all," Huckstep said.
The firefighters who man the station 24 hours per day arrived in fewer than 10 minutes, he stressed.
The fire engine was parked about a half-mile away in Pinebrook when the baby began to choke, Park City Fire District Battalion Chief Steve Zwirn said, adding that firefighters arrived within about four minutes.
"They were in their area and were able to respond back to their station within the national standard for response times," Zwirn said. "For the most part, we try to keep the people who belong to that station in that area."
Jackson was unconscious and not breathing at the fire station when a deputy arrived at 12:19 p.m., a report from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office states.
"The family maintains the idea that everything was done that could possibly be done. They are not pointing fingers," Huckstep said. "Anybody who tries to point blame or use that incident to blame fire stations, I think would be out of line in trying to exploit a circumstance for political purposes."
Still, Finney wonders if a fire crew on hand sooner could have saved the child.
She insists that somebody should always be at the building in Pinebrook.
The Pinebrook station contains a fire engine and ambulance, which was engaged in a medical call in Salt Lake when the baby began to choke, Zwirn said, adding that five firefighters staff the building for 24-hour shifts.
The Summit Park station was built when the fire department was manned by volunteers and was never consistently staffed, Zwirn said.
"That is what we’re upset about," Finney countered. "That Pinebrook fire station is now the only fire station anywhere near our area."
People who live in Summit Park and Timberline earn less money than those in other parts of western Summit County, she said.
"All of our services are much worse than Jeremy (Ranch) and Pinebrook," Finney said. "It is unconstitutional for any government entity to provide better services to wealthy areas than to low income ones, and we want somebody at the fire station in Summit Park."
She claims fire stations in Park City have moved "into all of the wealthy areas."
Zwirn did not comment when asked to respond to her comments.
A viewing for Jackson is scheduled at the LDS church on Kilby Road Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. Another viewing at the LDS Stake Center on Monitor Drive in Park City is scheduled Tuesday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. A funeral for the child will be held at the State Center Tuesday at 11 a.m.