News & Politics

Man Dies After Heart Attack Outside DC Fire Station and Not Receiving Aid

Authorities and family members want to know why no one rushed to help 77-year-old Cecil Mills after he collapsed outside a DC fire station.

Photograph by Flickr user tyarab77.

Mayor Vince Gray said Wednesday that the death of a man who collapsed outside a DC fire station on Saturday and died after no one came out to help “appears to be a dereliction” by on-duty firefighters.

Authorities are investigating why no one responded when 77-year-old Medric “Cecil” Mills suffered a massive heart attack about 2:30 PM on Saturday in the parking lot of a shopping center in Northeast just across Rhode Island Avenue from the Engine 26 station. The man’s daughter, Marie Mills, told Fox 5 that she and several witnesses ran to the firehouse for help, but no one came out to assist.

Help eventually arrived, but not soon enough. Mills, who spent his career working for the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, was pronounced dead at Washington Hospital Center about an hour after his cardiac arrest.

At his press conference today, Gray called Mills’s death an “outrage” and said DC Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe is leading an investigation that will include the 15 people assigned to the fire station on Saturday. Gray also said that his conversation last night with Marie Mills was “heartbreaking.”

Spokesmen for the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services and Paul Quander, the deputy mayor for public safety, did not return calls about the investigation into Mills’s death.

“This man served DC his entire life and he deserved better,” Council member Tommy Wells, who oversees the fire department, said in a statement Tuesday evening. 

Wells said he will also investigate why no one immediately responded to Mills.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.