Rowan 911 disputes woman's claim that telecommunicator 'hung up' on her

Rowan 911 disputes woman's claim that telecommunicator 'hung up' on her
Fruia (Source: Rowan Sheriff's Office)
Fruia (Source: Rowan Sheriff's Office)

ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Rowan County's 911 director has responded to a Facebook post in which a woman says she was hung up on by a telecommunicator when she tried to report a dangerous driver.

Angela Corriher told WBTV that on Sunday, she "witnessed a young man driving dangerously. Crossing lanes and even the median on highway 70."

Corriher says she called 911 and reported him, then followed the driver as he made a U-turn and continued to drive "all over the place."

"I reported to the 911 operator that I was witnessing him aiming his car at other vehicles and running them off the road," Corriher wrote. "I continued to follow the vehicle on numerous roads. Running off the road. Driving in the opposite lane towards oncoming traffic all the while on the phone with 911."

Corriher says she gave the telecommunicator addresses of the houses the driver was passing, and gave the vehicle information and license number.

"The operator kept apologizing saying that all the state troopers were busy with an accident on I-85," Corriher said. "She finally wished me luck and hung up the phone with me. I was in tears watching this vehicle still drive all over the road still."

"At this point I am following him down Hurley School road. He pulls into a parking lot of a closed store and sits there. I pull over to check him and see he's slumped over," Corriher added. "I call 911 back and say I think he's ODing."

Rowan EMS and a deputy with the Rowan Sheriff's Office arrived within minutes.

"Those poor unsuspecting vehicles with families in them that he kept running off the road didn't even know they were in harm's way. It was crazy," Corriher said.

The driver of the car, now identified as Joseph Tyler Fruia, was arrested, charged with resisting police, non-support of a child, drug possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Bond was set at $20,880.

"It was a really sad thing to see," Corriher said. "I was so scared seeing him aim his vehicle into unaware incoming traffic. The 911 operator and I were the only ones that knew what was happening and she thanked me for calling, apologized for not being able to help and hung up. How does that happen?"

It didn't, according to Rowan County 911.

In a Facebook post made on Tuesday, Rowan 911 Director Allen Cress said the telecommuicator never did wish Corriher "good luck" and hang up.

"Our management team has reviewed the recording of the call and determined the staff member followed protocol in transferring the call to the State Highway Patrol (NC SHP)," Cress wrote. "The staff member stayed on the phone with the caller and NC SHP obtaining information and relaying this as open air broadcast to Rowan County Law Officers. The caller was advised by NC SHP that due to a lack of patrolmen, they would also need to involve Rowan County Sheriff's Office (which was already occurring in real time)."

At no time during the recording did NC SHP or a Rowan 9-1-1 telecommunicator wish the citizen 'good luck' as alleged," Cress continued. "We are grateful for citizen involvement and inter-agency partnerships that help us keep our community safe, and we strive to assist in this process to the best of our ability."

Reached on Wednesday, Corriher said that she is satisfied with the response from Rowan 911.

"I am satisfied with my new knowledge that emergency response operators don't stay on the phone with you till help arrives," Corriher said.  "I guess i was just naive. Otherwise I'm good. I wasn't killed by some idiot driving all over the road that morning and neither was anyone else. So, that is the main thing."

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