NYC man Edwin Rosa Ortiz died of an asthma attack after EMTs were delayed by poor signage: suit

An East Harlem resident who had an asthma attack died after paramedics were delayed by poor signage at his apartment building, a new lawsuit says.

Edwin Rosa Ortiz called 911 on Oct. 11, 2020 when he “had a sudden attack of asthma at his home,” according to a lawsuit in the Manhattan Supreme Court last week.

But when paramedics arrived at 1680 Madison Avenue, they were delayed “due to multiple obstructions and a lack of directions, signals and directions,” the filing says.

Tabitha Ortiz holds up a photo of her father Edwin Rosa Ortiz.
Tabitha Ortiz is suing the owners of her father’s building, claiming poor signage prevented rescue workers from reaching her father in time when he had an asthma attack.
Gregory P. Mango

“They couldn’t locate the apartment because there was absolutely no signage to be found [it]’ Ortiz family attorney John Tolley told The Post.

“When they got to him, they found him passed out and completely unconscious on the balcony,” Tolley said.

The 57-year-old father of four, who had lived in the building for 38 years, was taken to the hospital where he fell into a coma and died two days later, court documents said.

Edwin Rosa Ortiz
The 57-year-old father of four was found unconscious by medics on the balcony of his East Harlem apartment after calling 911.
Gregory P. Mango

“Because he was forced to wait longer than necessary for medical attention, [Ortiz] suffered from his asthma attack and slipped into a coma, which resulted in his death shortly thereafter,” the lawsuit reads.

Ortiz’s daughter – Tabitha Ortiz, who is suing the building’s owner and management companies for at least $1.15 million – says when her mother came home to the apartment on the night of the attack after a family event, “It looked like a crime scene. ”

And her mother was “concerned” because her husband wasn’t home but his phone and wallet, the 37-year-old daughter told the Post.

The front of 1680 Madison Avenue.
Ortiz lived at 1680 Madison Avenue for 38 years.
Gregory P. Mango

“She called me and I rushed over,” Tabitha Ortiz said. “I called a lot of hospitals and [police] district and we didn’t really know what happened because he was registered as John Doe.

“He was literally in his boxers trying to go outside and get help,” she said. “It took us a while to learn that he was actually hospitalized.”

She and her mother “were a wreck” when they got to the hospital and learned that Ortiz was in a coma and unlikely to survive.

Tabitha Ortiz at her father's house.
Tabitha claims that the lack of apartment directional markings in the building prevented the EMS from reaching her father in time and contributed to his death.
Gregory P. Mango

“I tremble when I talk about it,” said the grieving daughter. “We cried and prayed that he would pull through.”

The lawsuit alleges that the owners negligently failed to post directions inside the building.

“When you have an asthma attack, time is of the essence because you’re constantly losing oxygen,” said Tolley. “Too much time had elapsed before he passed out before paramedics picked him up… Had there been a quicker response time, he would not have been in the position he was in when they found him.”

Tabitha Ortiz outside of 1680 Madison Avenue.
Ortiz was alone in the apartment at the time of the attack, wearing only his boxer shorts, as he attempted to get to the paramedics.
Gregory P. Mango

Tabitha Ortiz told The Post that the upcoming two-year anniversary of her father’s death is “a very difficult time for me and my family.”

She said her father – who was a manager at a communications company – was the rock of her family and best friend to his grandchildren, who called him “G-Pop” or “Grandpop”.

“[With] His birthday is coming up and the holidays are coming up and now he has to mourn and remember the tragic day that he passed – it’s very emotional,” she said.

“He was a great man and had an even bigger heart that was loved by many and respected by all,” said Tabitha Ortiz, reading from an obituary she wrote at the time.

One of the companies that owned an interest in the building declined to comment, while the other ownership and management companies did not respond to requests for comment. NYC man Edwin Rosa Ortiz died of an asthma attack after EMTs were delayed by poor signage: suit


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