‘Uncaring’ 911 Dispatcher Scolds Drowning Woman Seconds Before She Dies
A disturbing piece of audio is going viral this week showing a 911 dispatcher lecturing a drowning Arkansas woman in the moments before she dies.
On the morning of August 24, 47 year-old Debra Stevens was on her normal paper route in Fort Smith when a flash flood swept up her car, causing her to call 911.
“Please help me, I don’t want to die!” Stevens begged on the call, which lasted 22 minutes. “I can’t swim! I’m scared! I’m going to drown!”
The dispatcher Donna Reneau, who was working her final shift after giving her notice two weeks earlier, replied flippantly by telling Stevens that police would get there when they get there and that she wasn’t going to die. At one point, she even told Stevens to “shut up.”
As the water filled her car, Stevens said, “I’m scared. I’ve never had anything happen to me like this before.”
Though Stevens begged for help and a prayer, she got a lecture instead.
“Well this will teach you, next time don’t drive in the water,” Reneau responded. “I don’t see how you didn’t see it, you had to go right over it, so.”
Because of the floodwaters, it took over an hour for authorities to reach Stevens’ car, and she had drowned by the time they got there.
Fort Smith Interim Police Chief Danny Baker said afterwards that Reneau’s response was “calloused and uncaring at times,” but he added that she did nothing “criminally wrong” nor “violated policy.”
“I completely understand the disgust and the concern that we all have,” Baker said. “We all hope that we would get a little better response.”
Listen to the audio for yourself below.