Tags: flood | 911 dispatcher | death

Woman Drowns in Flood as 911 Dispatcher Scolds Her

Woman Drowns in Flood as 911 Dispatcher Scolds Her
(Lesik Aleksandr/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Sunday, 01 September 2019 10:51 PM

An Arkansas woman drowned in floodwaters shortly after speaking with an emergency dispatcher who criticized her for driving during the storm, The Hill reported.

Debra Stevens was delivering newspapers at just after 4 a.m. last week when her vehicle was swept away by a flash flood, according to a news release from the Fort Smith Police department. She called 911 for help and was connected with dispatcher Donna Reneau.

The department said it released the recording at the request of media with “with great reluctance” and was looking into ways to increase training for dispatchers.

Reneau tried to comfort Stevens in the first moments of the 25-minute conversation. But then the dispatcher tells the frightened women, after she begins to cry as her situation worsens, “Well, this will teach you next time don’t drive in the water.”

Stevens said, "I couldn’t see it ma’am. I’m sorry or I wouldn’t have," to which Reneau responded, “I don’t know how you didn’t see it." 

Rescuers did not manage to get to Stevens’s vehicle until almost 90 minutes after she called 911, according to the police's timeline of events, and by that time she had drowned.

The police explained that Reneau immediately contacted units, but they were inundated with helping others in the flood.

The release added that “An officer on scene removed his duty gear, donned a life vest, and was ready to enter the current tied to a rope but the speed and volume of water made this attempt futile.”

NBC News reported that Reneau was working her last shift the day of the tragedy. She had handed in her resignation earlier in the month.

Reneau had been named as dispatcher of the year this past February.

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An Arkansas woman drowned in floodwaters shortly after speaking with an emergency dispatcher who criticized her for driving during the storm, The Hill reported.
flood, 911 dispatcher, death
286
2019-51-01
Sunday, 01 September 2019 10:51 PM
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