N.C. Baby Dies After Repeated 911 Calls Go Unanswered

June 15th, 2010 by


A 5-month-old baby is dead and her parents and family members want answers to why their 911 calls went unanswered Friday morning.

It is difficult for Zula Terry to even look at the photo of her great granddaughter, Alley.

The 5-month-old, who was born on Christmas Day, died Friday morning in Casar.

“It’s hard. The last time I saw her she gave me chocolate,” Terry said.

The family doesn’t know what caused Alley to stop breathing early Friday morning but when they called 911, no one answered in the Cleveland County Dispatch Center.

A total of six calls were placed to 911 with the first call at 4:12 a.m. and the last one at 4:17 a.m.

Director David Dodd said the calls did reach the communication center but for some reason did not ring 50 feet away where dispatchers were working.

“You know the calls came in here?” Channel 9 asked.

“I am convinced the calls did make it to our communication switch,” Dodd said.

“And it wasn’t human error?” Channel 9 asked.

“I don’t think so,” Dodd said.

Cleveland County 911 has worked with their phone provider since Friday but so far has not pinpointed the problem.

With the director’s permission and with Channel 9 not alerting the dispatchers we placed a 911 call from the home in Casar Tuesday afternoon.

“Cleveland County 911,” the dispatcher said.

“This is Dave Faherty with Channel 9 News. This is a test,” Faherty said.

After just two rings, dispatchers picked up Tuesday but on Friday it was another county’s 911 center that finally got through. Rutherford County’s 911 center picked up the call and transferred it to Cleveland County.

The ambulance arrived 24 minutes after the family’s first call.

Now that family worries it could happen again.

“I don’t know if that call could have helped her, but it would have given us some peace if the right people had known exactly that they were breathing right that the things were happening right,” said Alley’s great aunt, Roxanne Hughes.

Dodd told Channel 9 they continue to work with the phone provider to put safeguards in place to prevent similar problems and want folks to call them if they’ve ever experienced a similar problem.

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