Debra Stevens, 47, drowned on August 24 when she accidentally drove into flood water in Forth Smith, Arkansas while delivering newspapers at 4:00 am.
Horrific 911 audio has revealed a shipper who was telling a distraught woman who feared for her life about driving in flood water and put herself in danger before she told her to be silent & # 39; in the moments before they drowned.
Debra Stevens, 47, had delivered newspapers in the early hours of August 24 in Fort Smith, Arkansas, when she accidentally drove into rising tidal waters that wiped her SUV off the road.
Stevens couldn't get out of her car and called two hectic phone calls: one to her mother-in-law who also delivered newspapers and then to 911 to beg for help.
Donna Reneau, who had resigned and worked her last service as coordinator of the Fort Smith Police Department, was the person who answered Stevens' call at 4.38 am.
The audio of the 911 call was released on Thursday, while the dispatcher and police department are criticized for handling Stevens' fearful pleas for help at her last moments.
At some point during the 9-minute 911 conversation, the shipper could hear: & # 39; Mrs. Debbie, you must remain silent & # 39; and & # 39; this will teach you not to ride in the water next time & # 39 ;.
Stevens repeatedly told the dispatcher that she would die because the water came up her chest and had swallowed the inside of her SUV.
She begged the dispatcher for help and said she was scared.
Donna Reneau (right), who had resigned and her last shift worked as coordinator of the Fort Smith Police Department, was the person to answer Stevens' call (left) at 4.38 am
Bodycam video released by Fort Smith police shows first responders looking for Stevens' car when she called 911 to say she was trapped in flood water
POLITICAL TIMETABLE FOR EVENTS IN THE DRYING OF DEBRA STEVENS
04:38: 911 call received. Dispatcher starts collecting information. Every police officer on duty is busy with other calls.
04:40: Call entered in the system.
04:41: Fire brigade is sent on site.
4:45 am: Police unit is sent to the scene after erasing the previous call.
4:50 am: Police / fire arrive on the spot.
04:54: Police / fire brigade report difficult location of vehicle.
04:58: Responders on scene advise all others to take alternative routes to the scene because main roads are blocked by water.
04:59: Answers ask boat.
5:00 AM: Call 911 is interrupted between caller and sending.
05:02: Responders report that they have located the vehicle.
05:04: Dispatcher advised that responders cannot reach the car due to fast running water. Responders try to get into the vehicle and put on life jackets and ropes.
05:16: Lifeboat arrives and is launched.
05:58: Rescuers go to the vehicle and remove the body from Stevens.
Reneau, who had been coordinating the department for five years, was told to tell Stevens to stop and calm down.
& # 39; You are not going to die. I don't know why you're going crazy. I know the water level is high … but you're crazy, doing nothing but losing your oxygen, so calm, & said Reneau in the audio.
Stevens could repeatedly hear his apologies to the coordinator saying that she didn't even see the water before she drove in and that she had never done anything like that before.
& # 39; This will teach you not to ride in the water next time … I don't know how you didn't see it, you had to go straight over it. The water just didn't appear, & Reneau said.
& # 39; You are not the only one stuck in the water. So calm. & # 39;
As Stevens became increasingly hectic, she repeatedly asked how long it would take for the first responders to come to her because no one was helping her.
& # 39; Am I not on the phone helping you? & # 39; Reneau answered.
At one point, Stevens even apologized for being & rude & # 39; against the coordinator for her constant pleas for help.
When Stevens said she had to throw up, Reneau hit back and said, "Well you're in water, you can throw up that it doesn't matter."
Stevens eventually asked the coordinator to pray with her while she waited for the first responders to arrive and Reneau replied: & # 39; Go ahead and start the prayer. & # 39;
She told the coordinator that she could see a few people watching on their balcony and noted that she was & # 39; pretty rude & # 39; thought they didn't help her.
Reneau replied: & # 39; Many people have called you, so don't think that people are just sitting there. They are not going to put themselves at risk just because you put yourself at risk. & # 39;
At the last moments of the phone call, Stevens began to shout uncontrollably that her car was moving, that she could no longer breathe and that the water was sucking her down.
Stevens repeatedly told the dispatcher that she would die because the water came up her chest and had swallowed the inside of her SUV
Police said the 911 operator had sent Fort Smith Fire and Police units to help Stevens, but it made it difficult because she could not describe her exact location. Above is a dashcam video of authorities looking for her car
Reneau was heard by the first responders who were looking for her: & I am now calling her and she is legitimately crazy. She says the vehicle is now in the water. & # 39;
After it started to sound like Stevens was talking underwater, Reneau said: & # 39; Miss Debbie? Miss Debbie before she said & oh my god. Did they find her? She is now under water. & # 39;
When the authorities finally found Stevens' car, they pulled her body out of the vehicle and tried to perform CPR.
She was already drowned.
Police chief Danny Baker said he was the & # 39; disgust and concern & # 39; who could fully understand the interaction between the coordinator and Stevens.
& # 39; It's tragic, I understand that. Are there perhaps things we should look at in our response? Absolutely, & he said.
He suggested that Reneau might have underestimated the urgency of the call.
Baker said that 911 at the time was flooded with phone calls from people who were also stranded in flood waters.
There were then nine officers and four 911 dispatchers employed.
& # 39; Probably it would have had a different dispatcher at that time, but remember that at 4.30 am & # 39; "Talk in the morning, so getting people there to help with the shipment would have been difficult," Baker said.
Reneau was previously praised on the Facebook Facebook page of the police for being a & # 39; professional, dedicated and excellent & # 39; dispatcher
& # 39; I believe that everything has been done that, given the circumstances at the time, it was human to save Mrs. Stevens' life. I'm terribly sorry it wasn't possible. & # 39;
Reneau had resigned two weeks earlier and was busy with her last shift.
It is not clear whether Stevens' 911 call was the last one to take it.
She was previously praised on the Facebook Facebook page of the police for being a & # 39; professional, dedicated and excellent & # 39; dispatcher.
Baker acknowledged that Reneau would have taken disciplinary action if she was still working with the department, but said he could not see anything that would have led to termination or a criminal investigation.
He said the police would investigate their policies for responses and their dispatch center after Stevens' death.
The police acknowledged that the call from 911 & # 39; sometimes insensitive and unwilling & # 39; sounded, but insisted that & # 39; sincere efforts & # 39; were made to try and find Stevens.
They said the 911 operator had sent Fort Smith Fire and Police units to help her, but it made it difficult because she could not describe her exact location.
Authorities said that when they finally found her, rising water made an immediate rescue impossible.
An officer had put on a life jacket and was ready to enter the water with a rope tied to him because the speed and amount of water was too high.
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