One of the questions Amy Metz’s siblings have is why her husband, Michael Metz, didn’t call 911 or try to get help from his neighbors when Amy became unresponsive while walking home from a party in a blizzard in the early morning of Jan. 24, 2016.

“Why didn’t he call 911? Why did he leave her there and go home? These aren’t things that us as husbands and men would think to do,” stepbrother Chris Scholtes said. “Why did he send out texts to his neighbors asking where she was when he knew he walked home with her?


“These are the things that make us all angry. That’s the angry side of it for us.”

The Times contacted Michael Metz and he emailed a statement but declined to answer questions.

In Maryland, there is no duty to call 911 unless the person created the situation, Carroll County State’s Attorney Brian DeLeonardo said.

It’s what’s known as duty to rescue, said Adam Ruther, an attorney with Baltimore firm Rosenberg, Martin and Greenberg and a former Baltimore prosecutor.

There’s no duty to rescue in Maryland, meaning if a person were to see someone drowning, that person has no responsibility to call for help or attempt to save the drowning person, he said. Duty to rescue is different than Good Samaritan laws, which protect people from specific criminal charges when they alert authorities. Duty to rescue would require people to contact authorities.

But the law changes if someone were to have caused the situation, he said. So if a person pushed someone into the water and they started drowning, that person would be responsible for calling for help.

Ruther noted that there seemed to a be a lot of uncertainty in the Amy Metz case based on the information provided by the Times and previous media coverage, and it’s probably a case that doesn’t warrant charges.

Former Carroll County State’s Attorney Thomas Hickman, who did not see the full police investigation, couldn’t think of charges that a prosecutor could bring against Michael Metz for leaving Amy Metz in the snow.

Ruther said charges in a criminal case are always led by the facts, so for there to be a charge, there needed to be evidence suggesting Michael Metz had done something.

While there might have been the potential for the State’s Attorney’s Office to press some charges, there might not have been enough to convict, Ruther said.

There are laws in Maryland about when someone needs to call 911, Hickman said. People must notify authorities after being involved in a crash with injuries, and parents have an obligation to get help for their child, he said.

But that’s because in those cases there is a duty to rescue, Ruther said. In the case of a crash, the responsibility to call 911 would fall to the person causing an action that led to injury or death. And parents or guardians have a special obligation to their children, he said.

Hickman said the legislative body should consider looking at laws about calling 911, especially given the opioid problem facing the state.

“There’s quite a bit of controversy about overdoses and whether people should call or not,” he said.


But neither Ruther nor prosecutor Allan Culver, with the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office, were sure if a law to call 911 is needed or should be considered.

Ruther noted that not having a duty to rescue has been in common law since the formation of the United States.

Culver saw the potential use for a law where someone has to call 911 in overdose situations, he said, but it would have to be carefully worded.

“It would be nice to have something, but it’s also, from a practical standpoint, hard to litigate,” Culver said.

It’s also a “slippery slope” to have a law that dictates when people must call 911, he said.

Del. Haven Shoemaker, R-District 5, who also works as a defense attorney, said the idea of a law dictating when a person must call 911 or try to get help for someone is an “intriguing concept.”

He could get behind a law depending on how narrowly it was written, he said. If the bill’s language was too broad he said it could ensnare too many people. And while he doesn’t sit on the House of Delegates’ judiciary committee, he said he wouldn’t be surprised if a bill about duty to rescue came out.

“It’s becoming more of a prevalent issue these days, especially with the heroin epidemic,” he said.

Beyond heroin and other opioids, there are other reasons a potential law could be helpful, he said, adding it could be written to account for people who don’t call 911 when seeing someone struggling, possibly from a medical emergency.

“I mean everyone has cellphones these days. You’d think it’d be incumbent on folks to call 911 for goodness sake,” he said.

But it’s something that has to be done carefully, he said. And there are some obstacles.

“The legislature has said there’s certain things you can’t legislate. And one of those is morality,” Shoemaker said.

The legislature has to be careful about imposing its interpretation of morality on people, he said, adding that it sometimes gets in trouble when it does.

The Metz case is hardly the only recent situation in which the possible benefit of a law regarding calling for help in emergencies has been contemplated.

A petition on Change.org in support of “Eric’s Law,” a proposed “duty to report” law, recounts three incidents that occurred in Colorado in 2017 in which individuals were left in life-threatening situations by others who did not call authorities.

Eric’s Law is named after Eric Ashby, who was presumed dead after a rafting accident last year, according to the Canon City (Colorado) Daily Record. Ashby was on a raft with multiple people when it flipped, according to the article. According to the petition, Ashby’s companions saw him clinging to a rock but did not call for help. The Colorado petition gathered more than 60,000 signatures.

Ashby was from Blount County, Tennessee. According to WBIR in Knoxville, Tennessee, a resolution in support of the proposed Eric's Law was approved by the Blount County Commission in November and was sent for consideration to the Tennessee General Assembly, which went back in session on Jan. 10.

In Colorado, Rep. Jim Wilson, told the Canon City Daily Record he already has pulled a bill title for a Duty to Report law for the 2018 legislative session that would require people who witness a crime or accident to call authorities to report it. Wilson said he thinks it could be pushed through a legislative committee fairly early because he sees it as a common-sense bill.

“I'm surprised that any state would have to have a law that you report some tragic event that's happening — that you'd have to have a law that says you have to report that,” Wilson told the newspaper. “You would think common sense would dictate that caring people would see something that occurred and would report.”