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Crime 911 dispatcher who told drowning woman to 'shut up' won't face charges

05:50  23 december  2019
05:50  23 december  2019 Source:   abcnews.go.com

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911 dispatcher under fire for chastising woman who later died drowning in flash flood. Debra Stevens’ SUV was caught in a flash flood when she called 911 . The dispatcher , whose name was not released, responded with criticisms for getting stuck, at one point telling her to “ shut up .”

A former Arkansas 911 dispatcher was cleared of wrongdoing following accusations that she mishandled a call with a drowning woman and told her to " shut up " just moments before she died. An internal investigation concluded that operator Donna Reneau violated policy by being rude during an


A former Arkansas 911 dispatcher was cleared of wrongdoing following accusations that she mishandled a call with a drowning woman and told her to "shut up" just moments before she died.

An internal investigation concluded that operator Donna Reneau violated policy by being rude during an August call with Debbie Stevens shortly before her death, but she did nothing that would have warranted her termination, according to the Fort Smith Police Department.

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Callous 911 dispatcher WON ' T face charges despite lecturing drowning woman and telling her to ' shut up ' minutes before she died when her SUV was The dispatcher , who also lectures Stevens about the dangers of floods, was found guilty of violating department policy by being rude to Stevens.

a 911 operator telling a woman to " shut up " before she drowned in a flash flood. The 22-minute recording of the 911 call has angered local residents, who are calling the dispatcher 's demeanor and Aric Mitchell, a spokesperson for the department, told BuzzFeed News the dispatcher who

"No evidence of criminal negligence or activities on former Operator Reneau’s part. In fact, the evidence shows that while Operator Reneau spoke rudely to Mrs. Stevens during the call, she actually bumped the call up in the order of importance shortly after receiving it," the department said in a report released Friday.

(MORE: 911 operator captured on audio criticizing driver who drowned in rising floodwaters)

Stevens' death made national news earlier this year when the department released audio of the 911 call. Stevens only had minutes to live, but Reneau appeared unconcerned and even scolded the 47-year-old woman for driving into such deep waters.

a person holding a dog: Debra Stevens, 47, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, died after her SUV got stuck in a flash flood while she was delivering newspapers.© Courtesy Nancy Organ Debra Stevens, 47, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, died after her SUV got stuck in a flash flood while she was delivering newspapers.

Fort Smith police got a call from Stevens, 47, at around 4:38 a.m. on the morning of Aug. 24. She had been delivering newspapers for the Southwest Times Record when her sport utility vehicle was swept away in a flood and then trapped among trees as the waters continued to rise, police said. Stevens first called a family member, Fort Smith police said, and then she called 911.

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The dispatcher told her to then honk her horn to alert emergency services to her whereabouts. Reneau faced no criminal charges in Stevens' death despite her "calloused" conduct. Horrifying audio reveals 911 dispatcher on her final shift lecturing a woman for accidentally driving into flood waters

The Arkansas 911 dispatcher who scolded a woman crying on the phone before she drowned will not face criminal charges , an internal investigation ruled. A Fort Smith Police investigation into Debra Stevens’ death found that while the 911 dispatcher “violated policy by being rude to Stevens at times

"I have an emergency -- a severe emergency," Stevens said during the call. "I can’t get out, and I’m scared to death, ma’am. Can you please help me?"

"I’m going to die," Stevens cried later.

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"You’re not going to die,” Reneau responded. "I don’t know why you’re freaking out … You freaking out is doing nothing but losing your oxygen in there. So, calm down."

Later on during the 911 call, the dispatcher assures Stevens that she is not going to die.

"I don't know why you are freaking out. It's OK. I know the water level is high," the operator said.

"I'm scared!" Stevens said.

"I understand that but you freaking out, doing nothing but losing oxygen up in there," the operator said. "So calm down."

Stevens could be heard crying on the phone.

"I'm scared. I've never had anything happen to me like this before," she said.

"Well, this will teach you next time, don't drive in the water," the operator said.

"I couldn't see it, ma'am. I'm sorry I wouldn't have," Steven said.

"I don't see how you didn't see it. You had to go right over it so," the operator said.

At one point, Stevens got frantic and had this exchange with the dispatcher.

"These people are all standing out here watching me," Stevens said.

"Miss Debbie, you're gong to have to shut up. OK. I need you to listen," said the dispatcher.

The recording intensified outrage over the operator’s response even though authorities insisted that "sincere efforts were being made" to save the drowning woman's life during the call.

Reneau had submitted her resignation earlier in August and was on her last shift when Stevens’s call came in.

ABC News Enjoli Francis contributed to this report.

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