A family continues to mourn the tragic loss of their teen son, who died in December 2012 playing the sport he loved. The family firmly believes that if LAFD paramedics had arrived to the soccer field earlier, their son would still be alive today.
Jesus Alonso Zambrano, 16, was in the middle of a club soccer game at Wilmington Middle School when he suddenly stumbled off the field, grasped his chest, and collapsed.
Zambrano played on various All Star club teams in Los Angeles County, often playing 2-3 games a day. He was hoping to earn a full scholarship to play collegiate soccer.
Zambrano’s coach Nelson Rivas explained, “He felt dizzy and I thought maybe he was just tired.”
However, when Zambrano sat down, Rivas said, “He started convulsing, that’s when I immediately called 911.”
When Jesus stopped breathing, his father, Pascual Zambrano, performed CPR as the coach called for an emergency response. The chilling 911 recording reveals how the dispatcher refused to send paramedics until he had an exact address of the school.
Rivas frantically repeated “We are on the soccer field at Wilmington Middle School. I- I don’t know the exact address.” Family members can be heard in the background screaming the name of the school and cross streets.
The dispatcher responds starkly with, “Okay, that’s not an address, sir. That’s just the name of the school.”
In an interview with CBS Los Angeles, coach Rivas voiced his frustration with the dispatcher’s attitude. “[The soccer field] is very visible,” he said. “There’s only one middle school in Wilmington. I don’t know why they would be confused.”
Rivas called 911 at 3:07 p.m. that day. According to his call log, the ambulance took 17 minutes and 45 seconds to arrive— more than double the average response time.
For the Zambrano family, those 17 minutes felt like an eternity.
Reports reveal that the dispatcher had apparently sent an ambulance to the wrong location, and a separate, second ambulance had to be dispatched to Wilmington Middle School. By the time the paramedics arrived to the field, it was too late.
Jesus was pronounced dead at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Harbor City. An autopsy revealed that he suffered from sudden cardiac death due to Acute Myocardial Ischemia. For every minute the ambulance was delayed, his chances of survival decreased 10%. If an Automated External Defibrillators (AED) would have been onsite at the field (as California law requires), Jesus could have been saved immediately.
“In my opinion, in life or death situations like this, that’s too much time, it’s borderline absurd,” Rivas said, shaking his head.
Jesus was the oldest of his parents’ four children. His father shares how proud he was that his sophomore son was “already being scouted by several universities to play soccer.” He would have been the first in his family to attend college.
Sadly, because of the slow response time from LAFD, his family never got to see him graduate high school.
Jorgensen & Salberg, LLP has been retained by the Zambrano family to ensure justice for Jesus. A lawsuit has been filed against LAFD and the family is currently awaiting trial.
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