Wednesday evening, May 21, Danny Cruz Jr. was busy making dinner for his three girls, Tea, 14; Savanna 12 and the youngest, Angel. Dinner was hamburgers and potato puffs.
He loved making dinner, helping his wife Tynisha, who works during the day. He was getting ready for the job he held since last November. He worked the 11 pm – 7 am shift as a night watchman at the Prospect Park Rink.
He never made it to work that night.
Danny was 40 years old and suffered from asthma. He hadn’t been feeling that well but didn’t tell anyone. All of a sudden, he had trouble breathing and told his wife to call 911. Tanisha saw his distress and frantically made the 911 call. She then started giving him resuscitation. The minutes passed by with no ambulance. She told her twin sister, Latisha, to keep him breathing and ran downstairs from their 16 Mill Street apartment, in the Red Hook Houses.
She ran up and down the street, looking for any emergency vehicle. She saw nothing, went back up, and then down again. By this time more than twenty minutes had gone by. She finally saw a policeman on the street and grabbed him. He ran up, assessed the situation, and made a phone call. Within three minutes the fire department and three ambulances arrived.
Tynisha’s aunt, Khadijah James arrived in time to see Danny intubated and being taken down to an ambulances. “The three drivers were arguing about who would take him,” James said. Cruz finally arrived at Methodist Hospital, but it was too late. A doctor told James that he had been without proper oxygen to his brain for almost 45 minutes, and was probably brain dead. They did manage to get his heart beating again, and he was kept alive by machines. Today, at 5:00, with his family around him, the machines were turned off. Danny was a registered organ donor, and parts of him will go to save others.
But this is small consolation to his family. Khadijah recalled that two years ago Cruz’s eldest daughter Tea had a critical asthma attack, and a LICH ambulance was on the scene within two minutes and she was properly taken care of. LICH used to keep an ambulance at Richards Street, by Coffey Park, covering Red Hook emergencies. The drivers knew their way around the Houses. For someone unfamiliar with the streets and buildings of the Red Hook Houses, it could take a while to find an address like 16 Mill.
It will take further investigation to find out exactly why this happened. Was it because of problems at 911, which have been well documented? Was it because of the closing of LICH, which was just taking place on the 21st of May? All this remains to be seen. What the facts indicate is that a young father of three is gone because he didn’t get to the hospital in time.
Our hearts go out to the Cruz family.