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Guerneville woman's death after 911 call raises questions

A Guerneville woman was found dead in her trailer two days after a 911 call from her home, leaving her family wondering if more could have been done to prevent her death.

Sonoma County sheriff's officials are investigating the response over the weekend by two deputies who went to the predawn call at the Drake Road trailer of Ranae Bunch, 70. Fire officials also are conducting an internal review of firefighters' actions.

Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman, who responded to the 911 call with Russian River firefighters and Sonoma County sheriff's deputies, said emergency crews did all they could to determine if someone needed help, short of breaking through the locked door.

They banged on the door and peered through windows with flashlights looking for signs of someone in distress, Baxman said. They even broke a bedroom window, allowing Baxman to reach in up to his shoulder to flip through the blankets covering the bed below to feel for someone there.

They saw no one in the small trailer, said Baxman, a veteran chief known for his rapid and aggressive response to emergency calls throughout the west county.

"I am sorry. We all feel terrible," Baxman said. "We tried the best we could with the information we had and what we could see."

Sheriff's Lt. Steve Brown on Wednesday said an internal investigation is underway to determine whether the two deputies should have forced their way into the locked trailer.

"The (sheriff's) policy is if you believe a life is in danger or somebody is in medical distress or somebody is dying, you go in," Brown said.

Friday's 911 call offered little information, according to a preliminary review.

Sheriff's dispatchers took a call shortly before 5a.m. Friday and transferred it to county fire dispatchers as a possible medical emergency involving breathing problems.


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