911 Calls Show Oregon Crash Reported Within Minutes

Jul 2, 2007 | Posted by: roboblogger | Full story: KNBC

“Everybody we talked to says they've been praying for them, and it pays off. It works. The good lord hears your prayers”

A man who identified himself as Doug Selby called 911 saying that he witnessed a red compact car drive off of Highway 26 apparently minutes after Cheryl Gibbs, from Alameda, and the Rev. via KNBC

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1 - 20 of 20 Comments Last updated Aug 8, 2007
claudia in Saint Helens

Portland, OR

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#1
Jul 2, 2007
 
so very very tragic. I am so thankful they are with each other in heaven now.
We have had such bad press over missing tourists or lost hikers...and still another seems to have arisen. There is no excuse for the 911 operators dropping the ball...nor the police.
Makes it all the more tragic.
Kathy

La Jolla, CA

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#2
Jul 3, 2007
 
Here's what I don't understand. So authorities didn't find the car after the 911 call; not sure why they'd give up within an hour, but ok they did. In the weeks following when everyone was looking for the red car and it's all over the news, didn't it dawn on any of those original responders that 'hey, we got a call about a red car off the road and never found it'- so at least they'd know the area to focus on?? What a tragic story and how very sad for these families to go weeks not knowing, when a little more effort and focus in that area might have saved them the added grief of a 3 week search.:(
claudia in Saint Helens

Portland, OR

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#3
Jul 3, 2007
 
kathy,
i totally agree. I went off that very same road about 6 years ago. thankfully, someone saw my car go off. I was down in the ravine about 40 feet upside down in a small creek...the underside of a car does not have much color. it blended right in. luckily the man who called 911...he had to go down the road and used the same phone booth...came back and waited where i went off the road. That part I don't understand either. If I witnessed something like that, i might not have tried to traverse the terrain to the car...depending on how far down theirs was, but I sure would have gone back to the scene so they would know the exact spot. And giving up when they couldn't find it? I'm embarrassed of my fellow Oregonians...and the authorities.
My heart and prayers go to their families.
Observer_2

Portland, OR

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#4
Jul 3, 2007
 
claudia in Saint Helens wrote:
There is no excuse for the 911 operators dropping the ball...nor the police.
Makes it all the more tragic.
In what way did the 911 Operators or Police drop the ball? Local Police agencies are funded to provide services within a given geographical area, and most jurisdictions are doing good to be able to afford that. Most of these areas might have 2 or 3 (if they're lucky) deputies on duty at any one time to cover 1,000 square miles. Sending one of these officers 4 or 5 miles outside their district to cover a call from someone who wasn't concerned enough to stop and check to see if the occupants were injured and wasn't even willing to return to the site to show responders where the car had went off the road doesn't seem very smart to me.

911 gets tons of bogus calls every month, from hang ups and fake "accidents" to people lying about weapons being present to get officers to respond faster. If you're in Portland with a cop every two blocks, maybe you can expect every call to be followed up immediately. But in the country, with skeleton shifts of County Deputies and just enough State Police to cover one shift a day out of three, you're pretty much on your own if something happens. Unless there are verified injuries, a Police Car is going to drive by when they get a chance, and if they don't see anything right away, they've got other things to do.

You might want to think that no matter what you do, the Police are going to be there to save your Ass, but it just ain't so.

Remember this when the Governor tries yet again to get the Oregon State Police some additional, dedicated funding so we can have more than 320 State Police (who also have the duty of enforcing game regulations, manning the state crime lab and providing legislative protection) to cover the entire state.
Observer_2

Portland, OR

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#5
Jul 3, 2007
 
Kathy wrote:
Here's what I don't understand. So authorities didn't find the car after the 911 call; not sure why they'd give up within an hour, but ok they did. In the weeks following when everyone was looking for the red car and it's all over the news, didn't it dawn on any of those original responders that 'hey, we got a call about a red car off the road and never found it'- so at least they'd know the area to focus on??
Mainly because maybe three people ever even knew about it - the original caller, the Dispatcher, and the officer that did the original drive by. In the intervening days and weeks, 911 probably dealt with 1,500-2,000 calls and the Officer probably had 50 or 60 calls to deal with - you're simply not going to remember a call where someone said they saw a car go off the road, but didn't stop to check it out or return to the site to show responders where to look.

I am surprised that the original caller didn't contact someone - he probably doesn't see red cars go off the road that often. But then, he didn't stop to see if he could provide help, so I'm not surprised that he didn't respond to the numerous news stories that appeared.
Fools Gold

Bonita Springs, FL

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#6
Jul 14, 2007
 
It would seem that irrespective of the memory of the 911 dispatcher, a computer search of SVAs with 'red' in them should have turned this up far sooner!
Fools Gold

Bonita Springs, FL

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#7
Jul 14, 2007
 
Observer_2 wrote:
<quoted text>
In what way did the 911 Operators or Police drop the ball?
Even a poorly funded rural agency should know the limits of their territory.
claudia in Saint Helens

Portland, OR

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#8
Jul 14, 2007
 
i wonder if the original caller didn't stick around because maybe he had something to do with them going off the road...?
Never the less...to listen to the tapes and hear them (911 responders) pass the buck as if it was a piece of gum stuck to a shoe they were not claiming...is so very sad. I am very aware of how many sheriffs/state patrolmen there are out there but it just seems that SOMEONE who was made aware of the car going off the road would remember it in the days to come with this missing red car report all over the media.
I WILL remember this when mr. kulingowski asks for more money for police services...believe me.
Observer_2

Portland, OR

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#9
Jul 15, 2007
 
Fools Gold wrote:
<quoted text>Even a poorly funded rural agency should know the limits of their territory.
It's pretty obvious they did.
Fools Gold

Bonita Springs, FL

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#10
Jul 16, 2007
 
Kathy wrote:
In the weeks following when everyone was looking for the red car and it's all over the news, didn't it dawn on any of those original responders that 'hey, we got a call about a red car off the road and never found it'- so at least they'd know the area to focus on?
The BOLO about the red car was from a geographically remote police department. I would think that Portland Police with all their personnel and computers should have found the 911 call themselves.
Observer_2

Portland, OR

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#11
Jul 17, 2007
 
Fools Gold wrote:
<quoted text>
The BOLO about the red car was from a geographically remote police department. I would think that Portland Police with all their personnel and computers should have found the 911 call themselves.
I'm not sure what they do in Florida, but out here, a "Be On the Lookout" means just that. If you see it, let someone know. A couple of adults who haven't been seen for a few days isn't going to escalate into a manhunt or an exhaustive search of all the 911 calls west of the cascades over the past two weeks. And all those law enforcement personnel have lots of other things to do beside tracking missing adults down. In one out of a thousand such cases, the outcome is tragic as in this one. But if you have all your law enforcement tied up on a search the other 999 times, pretty soon you've got all your cops doing search and rescue and not catching thieves, murders and rapists. In Oregon, pretty much as soon as you leave a metropolitan area, you're on your own. It's a good case for that On-Star service. They can track you and send help to you if you get in trouble. Cheap insurance if you don't want to pay taxes to maintain a reasonable-sized police force.
rod

Eugene, OR

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#12
Jul 18, 2007
 
They were off the road so far more police would not have helped,but that is what our government wants us to believe"they need more funding and police officers".They are going to make us pay painfully because we are where thier paycheck comes from and if they want more they will just handcuff you til they get it. Maybe the caller should have given a milepost marker.
Observer_2

Portland, OR

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#13
Jul 19, 2007
 
rod wrote:
They were off the road so far more police would not have helped,but that is what our government wants us to believe"they need more funding and police officers".They are going to make us pay painfully because we are where thier paycheck comes from and if they want more they will just handcuff you til they get it. Maybe the caller should have given a milepost marker.
Only if we want more services. If we're happy with what you've got, then it shouldn't be an issue. Clatsop County where I believe this occurred has something like 16 sworn to cover a 1,085 square mile county. Break that into four shifts, you get about 4 Deputies per shift. There might be one or two State Police stationed in the county. If this sounds like adequate staffing, then that's fine, but people need to realize it ain't Portland, and if you go off the road, break down, get lost looking for nature, or whatever, you're on your own. A Deputy isn't going to get a Code 3 Dispatch to run across the county to shag every dubious 911 call that comes in about motorists that have run off the road, mushroom pickers that are an hour late getting back to the car, etc.
Fools Gold

Bonita Springs, FL

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#14
Jul 21, 2007
 
Observer_2 wrote:
<quoted text>
A couple of adults who haven't been seen for a few days isn't going to escalate into a manhunt or an exhaustive search of all the 911 calls west of the cascades over the past two weeks... In one out of a thousand such cases, the outcome is tragic as in this one.
Oh, I quite agree. It would be a simple computer task to have a search made of all SVA calls or all SVA and "red" calls. Take but a few minutes. And it was the highly staffed and highly computerized Portland Police that should have done it. Rural agencies don't have resources.

“Watch this space”

Since: Apr 07

Astoria

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#15
Jul 27, 2007
 
I don't believe the outcome would have changed, though it's too bad the call and the ATL (attempt to locate, which I began hearing over the scanner about two weeks prior to their finding the vehicle) weren't put together sooner.
It was an unfortunate series of events, and from the sounds of it, reasonable efforts were made to find them from the call.
I don't understand why the original caller didn't help the dispatcher/police find the site. THAT is who dropped the ball, for whatever reason.
This county and that part of it, is quite remote and filled with thousands of similar places to "disappear."
It's barely possible that a 30 OSP or Sheriff units could cover all of it and be within a few minutes of every emergency, let alone the few that exist.
Fools Gold

Bonita Springs, FL

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#16
Jul 28, 2007
 
I do not fault the as-yet-unidentified motorist at all. He gave a specific location despite having to deal with a 911 operator who kept interrupting him.

“Watch this space”

Since: Apr 07

Astoria

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#17
Jul 28, 2007
 
Why didn't he go back and point it out, or check to see if he could help?
Surely he realized it would be a while until rescue arrived, even if they found the car.
If you're not familiar with this area, it's hard to explain the terrain, and I have to say I'm extremely sorry for their loss, and not entirely sure of every aspect, this is just my perception.
The reporting party should have stood by/gone back to help identify the scene. It's just the decent thing to do.
David

Portland, OR

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#18
Jul 29, 2007
 
Right On Nootka
Observer_2

Portland, OR

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#19
Jul 29, 2007
 
nootka wrote:
Why didn't he go back and point it out, or check to see if he could help?
This *is* puzzling. By all accounts, the driver didn't even stop to check on the occupants. Even under the best of circumstances, the soonest help could arrive would be an hour or more. By then, any serious injuries would be fatal.

Even if the drivers' reported milepost location was correct, it still leaves a mile either side of the milepost marker to check, and milepost 26 could simply have been the last milepost marker they remember seeing, not the closest one. More to the point, unless the driver was intimately familiar with the road, they probably couldn't have even found the location with 100% certainty.

That said, the driver probably behaved the way 90% of other drivers would behave under similar circumstances. So maybe we should take a lesson from this.

First, stop and see if you can render assistance - at the very least, find out how many occupants, their sex, ages and conditions (conscious and breathing? bleeding?) Hopefully you're certified in CPR, right?

If you need to leave to call for help (or even if you can call from where you're at using a cell phone) mark the site - a scarf tied to a tree, some road flares (you all carry road flares, right?) even a pile of branches by the road if that is all you have.

When you do call, be very specific and let the emergency operator know how confident you are about your location. This means you have to know what road you're on. This is particularly difficult if you are on a side road since most are poorly marked in Oregon. Also pay attention to direction - East bound lane? South of the milepost marker? Also be prepared to tell the operator how many people are in the car and their condition. This is important so the emergency responders know how urgent the call is. Neither the responders nor the public want emergency vehicles running with lights and siren just to show up only to find everyone sitting around waiting for a tow truck.

Finally, tell the operator you'll be driving back there to meet the emergency crews when they arrive. This way you can be sure they find the exact location.

But ultimately, people need to know they are responsible for their own safety. You can't depend on good Samaritans or emergency responders to save your bacon. So drive carefully!
Fools Gold

Bonita Springs, FL

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#20
Aug 8, 2007
 
Has this David Selby ever been located? Was it a fake name?
Is this simply hesitancy to reveal his identity or was it considered more nefarious?

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