Premature baby dies after 911 line busy when woman calls


A mother in Nebraska is mourning the death of her newborn child, which she delivered months early.

She says after delivering her baby at home, she called 911 multiple times but couldn’t get through.

The child wasn’t breathing and ultimately died.

“I said ‘call 911’ and she said ‘I’m calling but I keep getting a busy signal,” Theresa Kerby, Coddington’s Mother, said.

Joanna Coddington says she called 911 three times after delivering her baby girl at home three months early.

When she couldn’t get through, she called her mom at work.

“My mom answered and I told her that I gave birth to the baby and she wasn’t breathing,” Coddington said.

Kerby raced home and called 911 twice more from her phone.

After not getting through, they got in their car and drove to the closest emergency room. More than 15 minutes of busy signal from the 911 center.

“Nobody knows what the possibilities are if 911 could have come, but the end result is the same and that’s that baby Angel’s not with us,” Kerby said.

Douglas County 911 Director Dave Sleeter says the dispatchers were overwhelmed with three to four times the normal amount of calls. Most Sleeter says were non-emergency calls reporting fireworks complaints.

“That just infuriated me, because real emergencies, of life and death, were not able to get through,” Kerby said.

The 911 center says the carriers are the issue.

Sleeter says there’s a certain number of connections from each cell phone provider and if they’re all full, the user gets a busy signal.

“There’s a possibility if they could have got to her soon enough there’s a possibility she could have been here, but I’ll never know,” Coddington said.

The family’s wireless carrier did not respond to a request for comment on the story.

The county’s 9-1-1 director says authorities are working to improve the system. That includes setting up a non-emergency number so that 911 circuits don’t get overloaded with calls that are not true emergencies.

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