Family suing city in teen baseball player's death

15-year-old had heart attack after collision during game in 2010

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The family of a 15-year-old boy who died after a collision on a baseball field nearly three years ago has filed a negligence lawsuit against the city of Jacksonville.

Andrew Cohn's family says firefighters with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department were slow in response and did not jolt him with a defibrillator, a procedure they say could have saved his life.

Cohn, of St. Marys, Ga., stepped in the first-base path and collided with a runner during a game in Dinsmore. He suffered sudden cardiac arrest and died at a hospital.

"It's something you wake up with every day. You don't understand why," said Harold Cohn, Andrew's father.

The lawsuit says rescuers who responded were negligent because they did not inform dispatch in a timely matter that they were held up by a train. The lawsuit also says the crew wasted vital minutes trying to get through a locked gate at the park and then also wasted precious time standing in the outfield.

"The crowd was just shrill, yelling at them to jump the fence, go around, hurry," Harold Cohn said. "There were two or three occasions I look up in the outfield and saw saw two people standing there with medical bags just standing there looking and peering out here."

Finally, the lawsuit says rescuers never showed up with a portable defibrillator, then lied on a report about using one.

"There are certain standards," the Cohns' attorney, Wayne Alford, said. "The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department has these rules and protocols that have to be followed to make sure this does not happen, and it was not followed. What we are talking about here is negligence."

Becky Cohn said her son would be alive today had rescuers reacted sooner.

"Oh, I know he would be. I absolutely know he would be here today," she said.

Since their son's death, the Cohns have been very active in getting automatic external defibrillators into schools, ballparks and other areas.

Both parents say any settlement or reward will be used to buy defibrillators so others will live and Andrew's legacy will live on.

"We hope to gain awareness," Harold Cohn said.

The Jacksonville's Office of General Counsel said it could not comment on the lawsuit.

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