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Despite calls, man dies in Borgata parking lot

Josh Einiger reports from Atlantic City.
February 27, 2014 8:41:24 PM PST
A family in New Jersey says the death of their father might have been avoided.

He had a stroke in his car at the Borgata Casino parking lot.

Leon Zabavnik called his daughter who called police and casino security, but claim they couldn't find him.

But she did, and it was too late.

"I never want anyone to have that memory, of finding their dad like that," said Yana Zabavnik, Leon's daughter.

Yana Zabavnik can't shake the image of the moment she found her father, Leon, dead in his car.

She didn't have to be the one to find him. In fact, she says he didn't have to die at all.

Early Sunday morning, she was on business in Vermont when he left her a desperate voicemail saying he was having a stroke and begging for help.

"I think he was trying to survive. I think he was reaching out to me and I feel like maybe I should have been faster," Yana Zabavnik said.

Using an app on her phone, Yana was able to track her dad to the parking lot of the Borgata Hotel and Casino, where he was a regular customer.

The trick was to convince Borgata security to scour the lot and find her dad before it was too late.

So the family started barraging the Borgata and Atlantic City Police with frantic calls.

"My mom is calling them, my friends are calling them, telling them the sense of urgency, and they're just like we know we scanned it," Yana Zabavnik said.

"They told me they were going to call me if they found him," said Rada Zabavnik, Leon's daughter.

But that call never came. So the next day, Yana drove herself from Vermont to Atlantic City and cruised the lot herself.

It took her mere minutes to find the car cops and Borgata security never found.

Thursday, the family laid Leon to rest.

"Of course I would have liked for him to walk me down the aisle, seeing me in my white, beautiful dress," Rada Zabavnik said.

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