Fredericksburg man dies after 911 call goes unanswered

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (WRIC|AP) – A 911 dispatch center in Virginia is under investigation after a man died when no one responded to his call.

According to police, 56-year-old Robert Paulus died of heart disease in late April in his Fredericksburg apartment. According to Robert Paulus’s son, Michael Paulus, his father called 911 hours before his death.

1C86EEEDDC1A4FB8819C0419BC5972F6In the 18-second call to Fredericksburg City Dispatch, the dispatcher tried three times to make contact with Robert Paulus. After hearing nothing but an unidentifiable sound, the call was labeled a pocket call, where no call back is required.

Hours later, Robert Paulus was found dead.

“There was one final call for help and nobody responded,” said R. Paulus’ son, Michael Paulus.

Michael says he wants answers.

Fredericksburg Police Department spokeswoman Sarah Kirkpatrick says the handling of the call “was an oversight.” Fredericksburg police are investigating the incident, which could change 911 policies.


The Henrico Police Department explained how they handle unidentifiable calls:

“We attempt to locate the call by using GPS, contacting the cellular provider to obtain subscriber information, and sending an officer to the subscriber address.”

According to the state agency Vita, which supports state 911 call centers, it is extremely hard to track where a 911 call is coming from and the call must be at least 20 seconds long. Most times they do not send out an officer if the location is not accurate.

2CE5F1BCE4A44B3DB6308518E2C5FF09M. Paulus would like to see something changed in light of his father’s death.

“I want things to change,” he said. I think policies need to be changed.”

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