Testimony in Wrongful Death Suit Over Disneyland Stabbing : Park’s Policy Barred Paramedics, Nurse Says

Times Staff Writer

A Disneyland nurse who treated a stabbing victim who bled to death testified Monday that, as a matter of policy, Disneyland management did not call paramedics to the park as of 1981.

Another Disneyland employee, who drove the stabbing victim to a hospital in a park van without lights or sirens, also testified Monday that he had to stop at several traffic lights on the two-mile trip.

Elizabeth Santy Micco, the registered nurse who treated stabbing victim Mel Yorba in the park, testified repeatedly that Disneyland did not want paramedics or ambulances there.

Park medical and security policies, and how they were enforced, are key questions that jurors must decide in the wrongful death trial in the courtroom of Orange County Superior Court Judge Jerrold S. Oliver. Yorba’s family filed a $60-million lawsuit against Disneyland, contending that park personnel failed to properly protect Yorba and treat him after he was stabbed on March 7, 1981.


John Luetto, lawyer for Yorba’s parents, Clarence and Ellen Reynolds, asked Micco how she was trained to handle medical emergencies.

“The general policy was not to call paramedics,” Micco testified. Asked how she was made aware of the policy, Micco responded, “orally.”

She testified that she did not remember when she was told that, but said she was sure it was before March 7, 1981.

At one point, Luetto asked Micco to read from a two-page written statement of policy governing emergency procedures in the park. Micco read that paramedics were to be summoned in medical emergencies, but she said she had never seen it before.


“Where it says nurses are to immediately call for paramedics--I don’t remember that,” Micco testified.

Micco, licensed as a nurse in 1945, said she treated Yorba in Tomorrowland, where he was stabbed. When she saw him, she immediately decided to transport him in a Disneyland van to the Palm Harbor Hospital, about two miles away.

On the ride, she testified, Yorba stopped breathing. She applied mouth-to-mouth resuscitation through most of the trip, which she estimated took seven minutes. The driver of the van estimated the trip took nine minutes, and a security guard who rode in the van estimated it took 10 to 12 minutes.

Attacker Convicted

The van driver, Charles G. Mathews, testified that once he left Disneyland, he had to stop “two or three times” for traffic lights. Unlike an ambulance, the van was not equipped with sirens or flashing lights.

Mathews testified he remembered “a great deal of traffic” that night.

James O’Driscoll of San Diego was convicted of second-degree murder in the Yorba stabbing death and is now serving a prison term of 16 years to life.

Last week, a nurse who was visiting Disneyland at the time of the stabbing testified that she cared for Yorba for 20 to 25 minutes after he was stabbed. But Monday, Micco said she saw no one caring for Yorba when she arrived at the scene of the stabbing.


Luetto repeatedly asked the nurse about paramedic policy, asking at one point why paramedics were barred.

‘Because nurses are trained and qualified to handle the emergencies that may occur in the park,’ Micco said.

Asked if nurses could handle emergencies as well as paramedics, Micco answered, “I don’t know.”