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Russian Medic Gets Prison Term For Hanging Up On Child's Emergency Call

People light candles in memory of 14 children who died on Lake Syamozero, Karelia, in June 2016.

A Russian emergency medical worker has been sentenced to three years in prison for failing to take seriously an emergency call from a 12-year-old boy seeking help in 2016 when two boats were capsized by a summer storm at a holiday camp in Karelia.

An Investigative Committee statement on April 4 said that the sentence against Irina Shcherbakova had been suspended until her daughter reaches the age of 14.

Fourteen children were killed in the incident at Lake Syamozero, near Finland. The tragedy prompted a scandal when it was revealed that the rescue operation began only 18 hours after the boats capsized. Many of the children apparently died of hypothermia from long exposure to the cold water.

The court found that Shcherbakova "rudely" interrupted the child who was seeking help and warned him that his telephone number had been recorded and would be sent to the police. She then hung up on him.

Investigators established that the rescue could have begun many hours earlier if Shcherbakova had taken the call seriously.

Shcherbakova testified that she took the call as a prank.

Prosecutors had sought a four-year prison term for Shcherbakova.

Based on reporting by RBK and RIA Novosti