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Audio recordings reveal discussion over who should respond to deadly crash on East Cleveland border

Posted at 10:37 PM, Nov 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-01 18:33:38-05

Two people were killed in a crash on the border of Cleveland and East Cleveland Thursday night and, while a witness says it took EMS crews approximately 10 minutes to respond, the Cleveland EMS commissioner tells News 5 that once they learned an ambulance was needed, they sent one right away.  

The crash happened at East 125th Street and Superior Avenue around 9:30 p.m. 

According to Cleveland police, around 9:30 p.m. a 2001 Chevrolet Malibu was traveling eastbound on Superior Avenue in excess of the 25 mph speed limit when it slammed into the back of a 2008 Hyundai Sonata. 

The 2001 Chevrolet traveled left of center and struck the front of a 2004 BMW X5. The 2001 Chevrolet then went off the north side of the road and hit a light pole. 

The 2008 Hyundai was severely damaged and the fuel tank was compromised, causing it to burst into flames. 

It then struck the back of a 2014 Chevrolet Cruz. 

The driver and the passenger of the 2008 Hyundai were severely burned and pronounced dead at the scene. Three others were transported to local hospitals. 

The crash happened right on the border of Cleveland and East Cleveland. 

The initial impact happened in Cleveland but the impact was so great, the cars landed in East Cleveland. 

Firefighters were the first to respond to the scene. 

Dispatch audio recordings obtained by News 5 describe the scene. 

"We've got cars all over the street, one burning. A couple others are banged up. We'll keep you updated. It looks like East Cleveland is here. It's right on the border."

A few minutes later, dispatchers say this:

  • "Dispatch to B6, EMS reports they are not responding because it is not in the City of Cleveland. Be advised."
  • "EMS refuses. Got it. It's right on the border. We have cars everywhere. Some of the cars are in Cleveland. Some might be in East Cleveland. Notify assistant chief."

But Cleveland EMS commissioner Nicole Carlton said they never refused to respond. 

According to the audio News 5 obtained, about 6 minutes after that call is when Cleveland EMS responded to the scene.

Cartlon said that;s because the firefighters were still assessing the situation and, once they realized they needed extra help, EMS came out quickly. 

"Once EMS was aware that they needed assistance we were there within 5 minutes, I had 2 units there within 10 minutes with a boss and they transported the patients and they were very stable to the hospital," she said.

A witness says that wasn't the case.

"I ran to the car, yanked the man out the car, tried to yank the door open, it wouldn’t open I had to jump on the door, break it down and yank the man all the way to the gas station," said C.J. Delgado. 

He said it took about 10 minutes for EMS to arrive.

"It took a while, it never should had to take that long," he said.

The EMS commissioner added that the audio was just one channel and there are several other lines of communication used during an emergency.