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Joey Reiss death: Family of toddler killed at fire station files claim against city

Posted: 9:40 PM, Jun 22, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-23 22:54:48Z

The family of a young boy who died after being crushed by the doors at a Phoenix-area fire station has filed notice that it may sue the city.

In February, the Reiss family--including 16-month-old Daniel, visited a relative at the Scottsdale fire station near Miller and McDowell roads. Daniel was caught between two panels of the closing bay door and died from his injuries.

"Thirty seconds after I was taking pictures with him, he was gone," said Courtney Reiss.

Photos from that day show a happy 16-month-old boy named Joey on his first trip to a local fire station. He was there visiting a family member, his mother along for the exciting day.

"I miss bathing him and smelling his hair," said Reiss. Courtney and her husband Daniel speaking for the first time since losing their son.

Tears flow in a video submitted as evidence in a $9 million claim against the city.

"I still get those flashbacks seeing his little head caught between the doors, of me trying to pull on the doors," said Reiss.

"[The firefighters] knew the door closed quickly and without any warning," said the family's attorney Steve Hulsman.

He and other lawyers for the family say the folding doors at the fire station automatically close three minutes and forty-seven seconds after an engine leaves the station.

The toddler was killed when his head was caught in a 9-inch gap between the door and a wall as it shut, his skull crushed.

"No flashing light, no warning sign, no warning sound," said Hulsman. Attorneys and safety experts hired by the family contend it was that lack of safety mechanisms that cost Joey his life. They claim other stations around the Valley have those mechanisms and say by not having them the city failed to adhere to standard safety requirements.

Attorneys also claim firefighters were inadequately trained on using the door, as a fire captain saw the child playing near the door prior to the accident but gave no warning.

A message seeking comment on the Reiss family's notice of claim was not returned before publication.

"They say you don't know what love is until you become a parent, and it's so true," said Reiss.

A life once mapped out now shaken to its core, only grasping on to the gift Joey left behind with the donation of his organs.

"The one thing we're both very happy about is Joey saved the lives of four people," said Daniel Reiss.