The Police NewsDallas
Sitter for 6-month-old had trouble reaching Dallas 911 before infant died, city says
A 6-month-old died Saturday night after a babysitter was reportedly on hold for more than 30 minutes trying to reach 911 because of an issue that has been creating bottlenecks at Dallas' call center for months.
The infant's caretaker called 911 multiple times, but hung up before speaking to a call taker. When the call takers called back, they were unable to reach the sitter, the city said in a prepared statement Tuesday.
The child was taken to two area hospitals, but did not survive, according to the city. Dallas police are investigating the death and have not released any additional information.
Bridget Alex, the mother of 6-month-old Brandon, is seeking answers from the city.
"I want them to take responsibility of my son’s death. That’s what I want them to do," Alex said. "Because at the end of the day, my son was still breathing, but had y'all come out like y'all were supposed to, my son would still be here in my arms. But because you didn’t, my son is gone and I have to bury him on Monday."
The city saw a spike in calls
at the 911 call center on Saturday at the same time the babysitter, a
friend of Alex's who has a T-Mobile phone, was trying to get through.
That night 442 callers were put on hold for an average of 38 minutes, WFAA-TV (Channel 8) reported.
city has been dealing with what it labels a ghost call issue since
November. It has said that when a T-Mobile customer makes a legitimate
call to 911, their phone will continue to dial 911 multiple times and
the calls register as hang-ups.
This forces operators to call back every number that registers as a hang-up to verify whether emergency assistance is needed. If no one answers, police will be dispatched to the scene.
T-Mobile has said it is working with the city to resolve the issue.
The city said there is no evidence that the ghost call issue is connected to the child's death.
On Saturday, Alex, who has three older children, had
gone to the funeral of her nephew, 19-year-old Drekeiston Alex, who was
killed March 2 by a couple who referred to themselves as "Bonnie and Clyde" and bragged about shooting people in a Facebook Live video.
She was at her sister's home that evening when her friend, the infant's godmother, called in a panic to say that Brandon had fallen off a day bed and was barely breathing.
The babysitter called 911 three times, Alex said. She said phone records indicate the first call at 5:55 p.m. lasted 51 seconds. Her friend hung up and performed CPR then called again at 5:57 p.m. and stayed on hold for 9 minutes, Alex said. The sitter hung up to perform CPR again on the barely breathing boy. She then called a third time at 6:11 p.m. and stayed on the line for 31 minutes.
Her friend, who is distraught over Brandon's death, did not have a car to drive the boy to the hospital. Alex rushed from South Dallas back to her Far North Dallas home and drove her son to Methodist Dallas Medical Center.
The hospital transferred Brandon to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Plano, where he was pronounced dead at 7:48 p.m.
Alex said Tuesday night that her granddaughter accidentally called 911, and they called back.
"You called back, 911, but when I needed you the most you could not come to my hood," she said. "The explanation they’re giving, I’m not taking it."
Brandon will be buried in Alex's hometown of Greenville. A GoFundMe has been set up to help raise money for funeral costs.
Brandon was a happy baby, he didn't cry. He was crawling and just started trying to walk, Alex said.
"He met no strangers; his personality was very outgoing," she said. "To know that my baby is gone, that I will never get to touch him, see him, smell him, breaks my heart. And knowing that on Monday I bury him. ... Then what am I left with besides a broken heart?"
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he is "outraged at T-Mobile," and cannot believe the 911 ghost call issue remains unresolved.
"They are not only imperiling their customers, but [they are] causing major problems for folks with other carriers," he said. "I don't know why T-Mobile hasn't been moving heaven and earth in the last week. We made this very clear."
Rawlings, who was in Austin for most of the day, said he found out about the baby's death Tuesday morning, and that he and the city manager spoke several times throughout the day. But the mayor said he cannot directly address the death until he's seen the complete 911 call records and other documentation being collected by city officials.
"We've got to figure out what happened here, how quickly we can get this problem solved, and why T-Mobile hasn't moved faster in the last few weeks," Rawlings said. "Those are three important answers I am looking for."
T-Mobile said in a statement that they "remain completely committed to solving this issue and we have been working daily with the Dallas [911 center] to find a permanent solution to this problem."
Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax spoke with T-Mobile CEO
John Legere on Tuesday afternoon, and Legere committed to sending his
top engineers to Dallas on Wednesday morning, the city said.
said the engineers would stay in the city until the issue is resolved.
Dallas police have been providing overtime staffing in the call center
to help with the backlog, and will continue to do so.
"This is an unacceptable situation and the citizens of Dallas deserve better," Broadnax said in a prepared statement. "With Mr. Legere's commitment today, I'm hopeful T-Mobile can continue to work with the City of Dallas to finally resolve this situation so that we have a reliable 911 system that can properly serve the emergency needs of our citizens."
T-Mobile said in its statement that it was "increasing our efforts and bringing in additional engineers to Dallas to further collaborate with the [911 center] team. These top engineers will not rest until the problem is resolved."
Rawlings said he's asked Broadnax to "keep the public up to speed," and expects another announcement from him following Wednesday's visit from T-Mobile's engineers.
"This is a public safety issue, and people have got to know, if they have T-Mobile service right now, they may not be able to get into 911 until it's fixed," Rawlings said. "And, furthermore, it scares me because it endangers other people as well. It's a double whammy."The city encourages anyone with a legitimate need for 911 service to be patient and remain on the line even if they get a recorded message asking them to wait. T-Mobile customers who do get through to 911 should try to answer their phones if they receive a callback so police are not dispatched to the scene if they are not needed.