NewsPolk County


$200K settlement approved for family of Lakeland woman who died in 2018 fire

Posted at 10:33 AM, Jul 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-16 16:26:55-04

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Commissioners have unanimously approved a $200,000 settlement offered to Loretta Pickard's family estate.

Pickard died in a house fire in November of 2018, but her family says firefighters didn't try to save her.

During a 20 minute phone call with 911, the woman told dispatchers that in order to leave her home, she would have to stand up and use her walker. Pickard was recovering from a recent hip surgery. In the call, the dispatcher told Pickard to not hang up.

On the other end, Pickard was assured firefighters were there and would save her, but they never came inside.

In that 20 minute period, Amber Addison, Pickard’s niece, claims several policies were broken which lead to the woman’s death.

These violated policies include a social media policy that was violated when a firefighter captain, James Williams, took out his phone and decided to video tape the burning home on Snap Chat.

Polk County woman dies in fire, family claims more could have been done to save her

Polk County board of county commissioners admits critical mistakes were made the night Loretta Pickard died.

In May, a day after the incident report on the fire was released, Polk County Fire Rescue Chief Tony Stravino announced his retirement.

Since November, ABC Action News has uncovered multiple policies, standards and rules were broken the night Pickard died while on the phone with dispatchers.

Three months later, commissioners hired Emergency Services Consulting International to investigate the November 2018 fatal fire after multiple reports showed one of it’s captains, James Williams, shared a snapchat video of the fire raging.

The post-analysis incident report found five critical mistakes made the night of the fire.

Here are the mistakes the post-analysis incident report revealed.