Tragically, 3-day-old Sebastian Caban was fatally attacked by his family’s dog in California on April 21. The dog, a Great Dane-terrier mix, reportedly bit the 3-day-old infant because it was startled when the baby’s mother coughed. The attack on the baby took place while the family and dog were watching television in bed, according to a CBS 8 report. Following the dog bite, the 3-day-old baby’s frantic parents ended up having to drive their mortally wounded infant to the hospital themselves.
Because, according to the parents and authorities investigating the seemingly senseless tragedy, they were unable to get through to 911 dispatchers. Fox 5 reports that after their dog attacked their 3-day-old baby, the frantic parents called 911 twice. Both times, rather than being able to access emergency services for their gravely injured baby, the panicking parents were placed on hold instead. This version of events has been confirmed by the county Medical Examiner’s Office. The medical examiner also confirmed that the 3-day-old baby was killed due to head injuries sustained in the dog bite.
“Multiple attempts to call 911 were made by the parents. However they were unable to get through so they drove the decedent to UCSD Thornton Hospital Emergency Department.”
By the time the parents got their 3-day-old baby to the emergency room, it was already too late. Three-day-old Sebastian Caban was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital, said San Diego Police Sergeant Tu Nguyen.
Authorities began the investigation into the death of the 3-day-old baby on Friday, the day after he was viciously attacked and killed by the family pet. While the investigation is still ongoing, the sergeant said that the manner in which the 3-day-old was killed “appears to be just a tragic accident,” and that the baby’s parents are fully cooperating.
As for the dog who killed the 3-day-old baby, he was impounded by the county’s Department of Animal Services. Polo, a 2-year-old neutered male Great Dane-terrier mix, is currently in quarantine, where he will remain until 10 days after the attack. The purpose of the 10-day quarantine is to ensure that the dog was not rabid when he bit and killed the 3-day-old baby in the child’s Mira Mesa, California, home.
After that 10-day-period, says spokesman for the Department of Animal Services, Dan DeSousa, the dog will be euthanized unless the owners choose to reclaim him following the death of their 3-day-old baby.
Prior to the unprovoked attack that killed baby Sebastian, Polo had no known prior history of “dangerous aggressiveness,” say authorities.
As for the unanswered 911 calls, NBC 7 reports that the calls made by the parents of the 3-day-old baby killed by the family dog last week were 28 and 34 seconds in duration. Both times the parents called, they didn’t get through to a dispatcher but rather waited on hold. After the second attempt to get emergency help for their dying 3-day-old, his parents gave up and drove him to the hospital themselves.
The San Diego Police Department told the media that between 7:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. on April 21, when the parents were trying desperately to get assistance for their 3-day-old baby, 911 dispatch received 73 calls. Lt. Scott Wahl of the SDPD says that almost one-fourth of all 911 calls are “pocket dials.”
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family in this very tragic case. We know every second counts in an emergency.”
A neighbor of the parents of the 3-day-old baby killed last Thursday, Naomi Diaz, doesn’t think that it’s appropriate for 911 calls to go unanswered or for people in emergency situations to be expected to wait on hold.
“They’re supposed to answer immediately and say ‘what’s the emergency?’ not wait until the person has to call back again.”
NBC 7 reports that there is more to the local 911 problem, a problem illustrated so tragically by the death of a 3-day-old baby, than simple pocket dials. The media outlet says that understaffing is also a major contributing factor, and that many 911 calls in the area are taking minutes rather than seconds.
Police officers say that dispatchers are being required to work overtime until vacant positions are filled, and they urge the public not to hang up when they are on hold, but to be on the phone despite long waits. The decision to hang up the phone when calling 911 could have critical consequences, says the SDPD.
There is no word on whether the San Diego Police Department will be making policy changes as a result of the 3-day-old baby being killed, or whether authorities believe that a 911 response could have saved his life.
[Image Courtesy Of Ian Waldie/Getty Images]