An Arkansas mother is dead and her 5-year-old son was in critical condition Wednesday after an apparent 911 error caused a 43-minute delay in response, according to police.
Jinglei Yi was driving with her son around 8 a.m. Monday when her SUV hit a patch of black ice, went over a curb and plunged into a pond. Yi called 911 and alerted the operator of her perilous situation.
In chilling audio of Yi's 911 call obtained by the Associated Press, the 39-year-old mother described water in the car as it sank into the pond.
Although the operator contacted an ambulance service which dispatched responders within minutes, a Little Rock police spokesman said that the call was not logged into the system that would alert police and firefighters. They were dispatched once the ambulance called to verify that units were en route.
When the water rescue unit finally reached the scene, they were able to recover the boy and his mother in five minutes, according to KTHV. However, it was too late for Yi, who died later Monday afternoon.
In an interview with KTHV, Yi's husband, Dangyong Yang, said that his wife had called him from the car after the accident. He rushed to the scene of the accident from work but arrived to tragedy.
"I didn't see any car over there. I just saw in the water bubbles coming up," Yang said.
The operator has not been charged with any wrongdoing, and the Associated Press reported that it is not immediately clear whether the delay had any role in Yi's death. The 911 operator who took Yi's call is on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation of the incident.
This is not the first time that a 911 system error has been involved in a death. In June 2012, a 911 error dispatched responders to an address nine miles away from the actual emergency. A west Georgia man died of diabetic shock as a result, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
At the time, Ashley Hendrix, then-commissioner for Carroll County, told the Times-Georgian that the error was not the dispatcher's fault.
“I’m sure people will say it’s a human error, but I beg to differ,” Hendrix said. “We have a system that was recently updated. I voted against it, and I said at the meeting when we voted that it was going to cost someone his life.”
Other government officials thought differently and accused Hendrix of "speaking without knowledge or facts."
The Carroll County 911 dispatcher involved was later fired, according to WSB-TV.
The Times-Georgian reported that several potential problems with the county's 911 system had been brought to the attention of the Board of Commissioners in the past, among them sending emergency responders to the wrong address.