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Couple says Walmart employee prevented them from calling 911 for an unconscious co-worker

Posted at 10:17 PM, Oct 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-25 01:17:53-04

When calling 911, every second matters.

One Valley couple claims a Walmart employee hung up the phone as they tried to dial for help.

It all happened after another employee fainted inside the Mesa Walmart off Baseline Road and Country Club Drive.

Cindee and Matthew Larkin said a young lady passed out and collapsed on the floor.

It was initially supposed to be a quick shopping trip for phone cases when all of a sudden there was panic.

"My husband and I witnessed a Walmart employee faint and hit the floor. My first concern was, we need to get help," said Cindee Larkin, who has worked as a paramedic in the past.

Larkin followed her instincts and grabbed the nearest Walmart landline.

"Reached out, picked it up, attempted to dial 911. Another Walmart employee ran up to me, hung up the phone, and handled my wrist," she said. "Physically stopped me from calling 911."

Larkin was incredulous and distraught.

Her husband Matt dialed from his cell phone, and paramedics and police quickly arrived.

As for why the employee canceled the emergency call, Matthew said she offered an explanation.

"The person that had fainted, she had medical issues, it had happened before," Matthew said, explaining the employee's rationale. "And they were more concerned about the girl being embarrassed about causing a scene."

ABC15 reached out to Walmart's corporate communications team Tuesday, but we have not heard back.

Meanwhile, the couple has consulted a lawyer, because preventing someone from calling 911 is a misdemeanor in the state of Arizona.

According to ARS 13-2915(A)(3), "It is unlawful for a person to...Intentionally prevent or interfere with the use of a telephone by another person in an emergency situation."

According to Larkin, Mesa police asked if she wanted to press charges, but she declined.

The couple told ABC15 they are not interested in a big lawsuit.

"I’m just concerned and would like to make sure that something like this never happens again," Larkin said. "The public needs to know, when in doubt, you call out."

The couple hopes Walmart will use their experience and incorporate it into employee training.

As for the employee, she regained consciousness a short time after fainting and declined transportation to the emergency room.