Emergency responders could not reach Stacey Konwiser, the Palm Beach Zoo’s Lead Keeper killed April 15 at the zoo, until 17 minutes after the tiger attack occurred, according to records from West Palm Beach Police and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue obtained today by WPTV.
The deadly attack occurred at 1:55 p.m., according to a preliminary FWC report, in the night house, a behind-the-scenes area inside the Malayan tiger exhibit where the animals sleep and are fed.
The 911 call was placed immediately after the incident at 1:55 p.m. and units from West Palm Beach Police arrived at 2:01 p.m. and 2:03 p.m. Rescue personnel with West Palm Beach Fire Rescue arrived at 2:01 p.m., according to radio calls also obtained by WPTV.
The reports further show that the male Malayan tiger had been tranquilized by zoo staff by 2:06 p.m. The police notes state that, at that time, authorities were “waiting for it to take effect and get to the victim.”
“Animal has been tranquilized. We’re waiting for it to take effect before we can enter,” can be heard on West Palm Beach Fire Rescue audio transmissions.
Another six minutes go by before medics with West Palm Beach Fire Rescue were able to safely reach Konwiser and render aid at 2:12 p.m.
Konwiser was then transported about a mile away to Conniston Middle School where Trauma Hawk awaited. She was then airlifted to St. Mary’s Medical Center where she was listed in critical condition and later died. According to the flight log, Trauma Hawk arrived at St. Mary’s at 2:40 p.m., 45 minutes after the attack occurred.
Eleven minutes went by after the attack before the tiger was tranquilized. Seventeen minutes passed before EMS personnel were able to reach Konwiser. However, officers and emergency responders were on scene six minutes after the attack.
While this new information provides some insight into the timeline of events during those critical moments following the deadly attack on April 15, key questions still remain unanswered.
Is there any scenario for zoo officials in which the endangered Malayan tiger would be killed in order to reach Konwiser sooner, potentially saving her life? What is specific zoo protocol in terms of who ultimately makes the call to tranquilize versus euthanize a wild animal when a human, either a guest or, in this case an employee.
A Palm Beach Zoo spokesperson did not respond to these questions or the newly-released timeline of events. A press conference with Zoo President and CEO Andrew Aiken is scheduled for Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at the zoo.
LISTEN: West Palm Beach Fire Rescue audio transmissions while responding to the tiger attack at Palm Beach Zoo