911 operator unable to find caller's address

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by Andrew Horansky / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 11:22 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 31 at 11:41 PM

HOUSTON -- When you call 911, minutes matter. That’s why Kelly Willis was so quick to dial after someone stole her son’s truck.

They were in a parking lot at 10555 Pearland Parkway near Beltway 8.

When Willis was connected with a 911 operator, he told her he could not find the address.

“He [the operator] was trying to get across to me that it was not his jurisdiction,” she said.

Using www.911.org, KHOU 11 News producers looked up the address. Though it was close to the edge of Harris County, they found 10555 Pearland Parkway was still within the county’s jurisdiction.

Unfortunately the 911 operator did not discover that in time. He transferred Willis to police in Pearland, who in turn transferred her back.

That’s when things became tense. KHOU 11 News obtained the 911 recording.

“I’m telling you it does not come up,” the operator said.

“You can tell me whatever the hell you want. Get me whoever I need to talk to!” Willis replied.

As time ticked away, it was clear the trail for the missing truck is getting colder.

At one point, the operator called for his supervisor, while Willis was on hold.

“It’s not on our map,” he told him. “There’s no five digit Pearland Parkways on our map.”

Eventually, Kelly Willis called Houston police, who respond to the call.

“I just kept thanking God that there wasn’t someone injured,” she said.

On Thursday, KHOU 11 News took her story to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and asked what happened. They admitted the system can sometimes have trouble keeping up with development.

“The development might be expanding within Harris County where an update might not be given on time or it wasn’t processed immediately,” said Monica Williamson, Harris County's 911 Coordinator.

She urged callers to be patient and be as specific as possible whenever contacting them.

“If we have difficulties locating you, it’s important to know one -- your cross streets,” she said. “Maybe a business that you’re close to, or a land marker that we can go by that could help us send you that first responder.”

Willis just wishes help could have come sooner.

By the time authorities arrived, the truck was long gone. It is now likely gone for good.

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