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Every episode, “9-1-1” sees the characters get up close and personal with the most intense human drama there is. While many of the events are dramatized for TV, real-life 9-1-1 operators actually do deal with some of the most shocking, heartbreaking and bizarre things imaginable on a daily basis.
The crew of the 118 on “9-1-1” deal with life-or-death situations such as home invasions, medical emergencies and dangerous building fires each week. Although it’s just a TV show, real-life 911 dispatchers deal with these cases all the time. To get a sense of just how closely “9-1-1” gets to real life, one needs only to look at Oxygen’s “911 Crisis Center.” The series follows the men and women who work at the Chagrin Valley area emergency call center in Ohio. The show depicts them keeping their composure while dealing with incredibly high-stakes calls, just like every other 911 call center in the country.
With a variety of shocking and wild calls coming in every minute, there have been a few over the years that stand out as being particularly interesting. As fans get acquainted with the team on “9-1-1” at its new home on USA, now seems like a good time to dive into some of the most harrowing real-life calls that prove how true-to-life the show actually is:
A Man Wants To Be Stopped From Hurting His Wife
More than once on “9-1-1,” the team has had to deal with hostile or abusive spouses. This is a pretty common call in the real world as well. However, in 2015, a 64-year-old man named Charles Hendricks Foster made a call to 911 that truly stood out.
Foster can be heard in audio posted by The Bellingham Herald demanding officers come and arrest him because he knows he won’t be able to stop himself from harming his wife.
“I am about ready to kill my wife. This is not a joke,” he said on the call. “Just shut up and listen to me!”
The man continued to tell the dispatcher to be quiet as she tried her best to get information from him that could save his wife. He explained he’d already punched his spouse in the face over an argument about her drinking and could not stave off his desire to do further harm.
“All I want is an officer, or two, whatever it takes, to come down here to my apartment, my address, and arrest me. Me!” he told the dispatcher.
Foster got riled up and hung up twice during the ordeal. Fortunately, the dispatcher was able to get his address and sent officers over. Unfortunately, by the time first responders arrived, Foster had stabbed her in the chest with a kitchen knife. However, because of the dispatcher’s efforts, Foster’s wife, Gayle Leigh Corris, was taken to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery that saved her life.
Foster was taken into custody and charged with attempted murder in the second degree while armed with a deadly weapon. He made it clear he did not regret his actions, even after he sobered up, according to The Bellingham Herald.
Criminals Butt-Dial 911
Talk about an open-and-shut case.
Two 20-year-olds in Fresno, California, named Nathan Teklemariam and Carson Rinehart somehow butt-dialed 911, inadvertently giving dispatchers a glimpse at just 35 eventful minutes of their criminal lives.
The call opened with a discussion about scoring marijuana. To get the cash, they planed out and execute the break-in of a parked vehicle by shattering a window (quite the plan). They can then be heard in what “Today” described at the time as “surprisingly decent audio quality” struggling to divide the prescription drugs they found in the car between the two of them.
The clever 911 dispatcher managed to piece together enough information to track down their location and send it to officers. Unfortunately for the criminal duo, but very fortunately for the world, the call was still going on when they were pulled over. They were taken into custody after police found the stolen items in the car.
When they were informed how the police had found them, they struggled to come to grips with just how boneheaded their situation was.
A Young Man Confesses to Murder
Sadly, some 911 calls happen after tragedy has already struck. Such was the case with Jake Evans in 2012.
A 911 operator working the Parker County, Texas, area received a chilling phone call from the 17-year-old who very calmly confessed to murdering his 48-year-old mother and 15-year-old sister with a .22 revolver. Those who have heard the full 911 call are typically struck by how matter-of-fact Evans sounds in describing what took place, presumably calling the dispatcher mere feet away from the horrific crime scene.
"It just kind of happened," Evans told the operator (via NBC 5). "I've been kind of, uh, planning on killing for a while now."
When asked if he had been planning to murder his mom and sister or just anyone, he said: “Pretty much anybody.”
“I guess this is really selfish to say but, to me, I felt like they were just suffocating me in a way. I don't know," Evans admits.
He later adds: “Obviously, I am pretty, I guess, evil.”
Although he did not seem to exhibit any emotions on the call, he did express some regret for his actions to the patient dispatcher, confessing he did not like the feeling of killing. He added that he assumed he’d be “pretty messed up” after what he did. To her credit, the 911 dispatcher keeps him calm and (routinely) says she’s on his side as they both wait for police to arrive.
The boy’s father was out of town on business at the time of the murders and raced home shortly after police took Evans into custody. The family has two other daughters who were fortunately not home at the time.
NBC 5 also reported Evans was sentenced in 2015 to 45 years each on both counts of murder to run concurrently. A capital murder count included in his indictment was waived as part of the deal.
Multiple Callers Spot a UFO
The operators on Oxygen’s “911 Crisis Center” field a lot of outrageous and dire calls. However, during the Season 1 episode titled “They’re Out There,” the dispatch center started getting multiple calls from people seeing strange lights in the sky accompanied by odd sounds.
The first caller of the night described a “green beam” coming through their window. Another said something was hovering over his house and making a “deep growl” noise. Just when the dispatchers were starting to joke about aliens landing on Earth, yet another caller described blue lights dancing around their home and speculated it was “more than one” drone.
With the situation proving impossible to ignore with so many reports, a police officer was sent to the area and quickly determined the strange lights in the sky were sadly (or not, depending on your outlook) not visitors from another world. They were merely effects from a party with music and spotlights on top of a nearby hill.
Ironically, the operators didn’t fully rule out the call nor the extra-busy night being impacted by the cosmos. The night in question happened to be a full moon and the staff unanimously agreed that strange things tend to happen each month on the full moon.
A Parrot Calls For Help
In 2019, a UPS driver in Oregon got the shock of his life while he was finishing up his deliveries for the evening.
After hearing what sounded like a woman screaming for help, the driver quickly called his wife to relay what was happening. She in turn called 911 to report the incident while the driver stuck around outside the house to make sure everything was OK.
Deputy Hayden Sanders from the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office arrived on the scene and heard the distress calls as well, according to The Oregonian. He cautiously approached the house and got a look in the window. Panic quickly turned to relief and laughter as he realized the source of the distress calls was none other than the homeowner’s pet parrot, Diego.
After a brief investigation, it was determined no humans were involved and no one, including Diego, was actually in any danger. Although, it begs the question: Where did the parrot initially hear those calls of distress to mimic?
Rerun episodes of "9-1-1" air every Thursday on USA Network starting at 7/6c.
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