[Warning: Some may find the 911 audio disturbing.]
A 38-year-old man and his fiance were changing a flat tire over the weekend when they were struck by a vehicle on a Maryland highway. The man’s 13-year-old daughter was sitting in the backseat with her little brother. She saw her father — who later died — run down. She watched the other car speed away. Then, frantically, she dialed 911.
That’s when a dispatcher told her to “stop whining.”
Rick Warrick got out of the car to change the tire Sunday night on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway near Laurel, about 20 miles from Baltimore. His fiance went with him. He had reportedly just finished tightening the last lug nut on a spare when a driver in another vehicle hit them and kept driving, NBC reported.
When Warrick’s daughter called 911, the dispatcher didn’t ask how old she was, and called her “ma’am” several times. He asked to speak to someone else. Then he told her to “stop whining,” according to audio released on Thursday.
“Are they conscious right now?” the dispatcher asked.
“Yeah, one of them. One of them,” the girl told him.
“So two people were struck?” he asked.
“Yeah, they’re just laying here,” she said.
“Okay, let’s stop whining. Let’s stop whining,” he said. “It’s hard to understand you.”
During the five-minute phone call, the dispatcher asked the teenager numerous questions to find out where she was and what condition the victims were in. Some responses were coherent and calm. As expected, others were chaotic and confused.
“What kind of injuries do they have?”
“I’m not sure.”
“So they’re awake?”
“Yeah. No, only one of them. Only one.”
“Are they both breathing?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.”
The dispatcher asked the teen repeatedly why her father was lying on top of his fiance, the Associated Press reported. She said that was just how he landed when he was hit. Then she said her father was breathing but he wasn’t conscious.
“Can you walk up to these people and kind of find out some information for me?” the dispatcher said, sounding frustrated. “I don’t need to know what exactly happened. I need to find out — ”
Then the girl let out a screech and started saying something nearly indecipherable.
“Ma’am, I need you to walk up to these people and I need you to look and tell me what’s going on with these people.”
“They are just laying here!” she yelled at the operator. “Nothing. They are just laying here.”
“Okay, is there someone else there I can talk to because it’s so hard — ”
“It’s only my little brother and I’m talking better than him right now.”
Capt. Russ Davies, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, told the AP the dispatcher should have tried to calm the girl down, rather than telling her not to yell or whine.
“Dispatchers are trained to take control when they have a hysterical caller to focus them, but how [the dispatcher] proceeded to do that doesn’t meet our expectations of how that would occur, and we’re going to presume the public feels the same way,” he said. “That’s not how they expect to be treated when calling 911 in an emergency like that.”
The dispatcher, whose name has not been released, was reassigned to another position during an internal investigation and, depending on the investigation’s findings, could ultimately face termination, Davies told the AP.
At the end of the call, the teen became frantic, asking the dispatcher to hurry.
“Can y’all please hurry up?” she said.
“Ma’am, ma’am, please stop yelling. Stop yelling, please.”
Warrick was rushed to a local hospital, where he died, police said. His 28-year-old fiance suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.
Police said they have not gotten a description of the vehicle that hit Warrick and his fiance and that no arrests have been made.