Cell Phone Snafu Delays Response to Accident


Patrick Malone | | Friday, September 28, 2007

The Pueblo County Sheriff's Department blames a cellular phone tower snafu for the delay in responding to an auto accident that involved serious injuries in northern Pueblo County on Wednesday.

A witness who arrived on the crash scene in the 6400 block of Overton Road said the accident was first reported at 7:15 a.m. However, the Pueblo County Sheriff's Department didn't receive word of the crash until about 8:35 a.m., and arrived on scene by 9:02, according to Charlene Graham, bureau chief for law enforcement.

According to Graham, a vehicle carrying three occupants was traveling approximately 73 mph, when it failed to negotiate a curve in the road and rolled multiple times. All three victims of the accident were transported to Colorado Springs hospitals, at least one of them by Flight For Life helicopter.

The conditions and identities of the crash victims were not immediately available, but they were described as workmen of foreign origin by sources familiar with the investigation.

Graham said the sheriff's department's administration is concerned about the delay in relaying the accident call. She said cell phone calls to 911 from the crash site, just a few miles south of the El Paso County line, were routed by a cell phone tower to the dispatch center in El Paso County.

It wasn't until a trooper from the Colorado State Patrol arrived on scene and notified the local sheriff's department that the crash was within its jurisdiction that the Pueblo County Sheriff's Department responded to the accident, Graham said.

Graham said she is not certain how cell phone companies determine which agency will be alerted when calls to 911 come from areas near county borders. But the sheriff's department intends to get a grasp on the process in light of what happened Wednesday.

"I have no idea why the calls were routed to the El Paso County 911 system," Graham said. "It's something we're definitely going to explore."

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