Last weekend, Medrick Cecil Mills, 77, collapsed in the street in Washington, DC. Fortunately, he was across the street from a firehouse. Unfortunately, they wouldn't help him.

The Washington Post today reports on the near-unbelievable story of Mills' death. On Saturday, he was shopping with his daughter in Northeast DC. As they left a computer shop, he abruptly collapsed to the ground. "Several bystanders" noticed a firehouse just across the street, and ran over to ask for help. And then:

Mills said she was told by people who tried to help that the firefighters said that they couldn't respond unless someone called 911. It took 15 to 20 minutes for help to show up on Saturday, she said, and then arrived only because a D.C. police officer flagged down an ambulance that happened to pass by. Her father, Medric Cecil Mills Jr., died of an apparent heart attack at MedStar Washington Hospital Center that afternoon.

An investigation is underway. Everyone in the firehouse that day is being questioned. Mills says that the fireman at the firehouse who was approached by the bystanders told them, "There's nothing I can do if my lieutenant doesn't tell me to go."

[Photo: Flickr]