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Casey asking FCC to investigate dropped 911 call in I-81 homicide

Updated: Tuesday, January 14 2014, 10:21 PM CST
Reported by: Donna Kirker Morgan

HARRISBURG -- Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Robert Casey has written a letter to the Federal Communications Commission asking for a review of what happened with 911 communications during the I-81 road rage homicide Jan. 4.

It’s been reported that Timothy Davison, 28, made multiple 911 calls as he was chased from Maryland into Pennsylvania, where he was forced off the road and then shot and killed.

“Phone services are vital to rural communities and we must ensure we are striving to expand new and updated technologies to all Americans regardless of where they live. I appreciate your attention to this matter, and I look forward to your response,” Casey wrote in his letter.

A few days after Davison was killed, CBS 21 News asked about what appeared to be dropped 911 calls. We were told that it was not clear whether the call was dropped or if Davison dropped the phone as he was being chased northbound.

We did get some answers about how the 911 system works when a caller is on the move. We talked with the director the Dauphin County 911 Dispatch Center.

Steve Libhart says dropped calls are fairly rare but they are subject to physical conditions where you are -- whether there are high trees or other obstacles.

He says all calls -- whether it’s a call to grandma or a call for help -- depend on the huge cell towers we see around the country side. However, once dispatchers have the 911 calls in their sights, they have specific protocols that must be followed if a call is dropped. Also, if a caller is on the move, for example on a highway, county dispatch centers have agreements and procedures on how a call will move from one county to another.

“Obviously, the need could arise here to cross a call into Cumberland, Franklin (counties). It doesn’t matter. We have a dedicated channel we're going to transfer call on," he explained. 

Franklin County’s 911 Center director tells us that once they received Davison’s 911 call, it was not dropped in their county. They also say, when it was relayed to Pennsylvania State Police, PSP reported that Maryland State Police were already at the scene where Davison was forced off the road at mile marker 3.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania State Police announced today that the Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers reward for information pertaining to the Interstate 81 Homicide of Timothy Davison has been raised to $10,000.

Any person with any information regarding the Interstate 81 homicide is asked to call 1-800-4PA-TIPS (1-800-472-8477). All callers remain anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward.  
Casey asking FCC to investigate dropped 911 call in I-81 homicide

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