DALLAS — The mantle over Nikki Lawson's fireplace is covered with memories of her two-year-old daughter, Sedria. She stares at her daughter's photographs and favorite things with a pain no parent should ever feel.
"I can't explain it," Lawson said. It's just something empty inside of me, you know? Every time I think about that day, I just remember she's running around. She was so happy."
Home video shot on Easter Sunday captured the joy of that day, but hours later, the family's celebration ended in tragedy when Sedria Lawson was killed at an apartment complex on Military Parkway in Dallas.
A driver ran over the toddler while she was playing in the street. Investigators ruled it was an accident.
"I ran and ran," Lawson said. "I see the truck in the middle of the street. I got down on my knees and looked up under the truck, 'cause she [a cousin] said there was a baby under the truck."
Tristan Osby, a family friend, saw the accident.
"We called the ambulance and the police at 8:47," he said.
A Dallas Fire-Rescue engine arrived less than one minute after being dispatched. But the ambulance or rescue unit that could have taken the child to a hospital didn't arrive right away.
Greg Cherry, a relative, was holding the dying Sedria in his arms.
"They were talking for a little bit trying to figure out exactly what we are going to do, and I'm like, 'Okay guys,'" Cherry said. "'I'm feeling her pulse, and it's weakening now.'"
A firefighter at the scene performed CPR on the the fire engine.
"He started pressing his two fingers," said Cherry while pointing to his chest. "He was doing that until the paramedics came."
Dallas Fire-Rescue admits there was a delay because the ambulance that would have normally responded was taking someone else to the hospital, so they dispatched the next closest unit.
Dallas Fire-Rescue sent News 8 a statement, conceding there was a delay.
"We have reviewed the incident reports, and while we did not find that the response time of our rescue unit was exceptionally lengthy, we do realize that it was a little longer than normal," said department spokesman Jason Evans.
DFR aims for each response to be within five minutes. The agency also told us, its rescue unit arrived in six minutes and 43 seconds after being dispatched.
Family and friends don't know if a more rapid response could have saved Sedria's life.
"We are not blaming anyone," Cherry said. "We just want a faster response time."
Sedria's mother also hopes her loss is a lesson for every parent — watch your children more closely and cherish every moment.
"Love them," Lawson said, "because mine is gone, and she's never coming back."
Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Sedria Lawson.
We have reviewed the incident reports and while we did not find that the response time of our rescue unit was exceptionally lengthy, we do realize that it was a little longer than normal. The reason for this extended response time was that the assigned rescue unit was responding outside of its first alarm response district. Simply put, the rescue unit that would have normally responded to that call was already responding to another incident and the closest available unit was dispatched instead. However, the incident also shows that the paramedics with our engine company arrived on the scene in less than one minute after they were dispatched. After their arrival, they promptly began performing CPR on Ms. Lawson. So there was no delay in Ms. Lawson receiving the most critical aspect of patient care: Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS).
As to whether the length of time it took our rescue unit to respond made a difference in the outcome, there are several factors in addition to response time (i.e., size and age of victim, mechanism of injury, the length of time between the incident and the call to 9-1-1, etc.) that can influence the outcome. In this particular case, however, we do not know if the outcome would have been any different if a rescue unit somehow could have arrived earlier. Under the circumstances, we believe our engine company and rescue unit did the best they could.