ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Questions persist about how a St. Louis County 911 call went to Colorado as a 6-year-old boy drowned.
Federal laws are in place to avoid these tragic mistakes.
On July 20, 2022, a 911 call from a phone the Kennedy Rec Center was routed to Colorado while TJ Mister drowned. It was a tragic mistake because of one very simple reason.
“It seems so mundane, but testing is how we can save lives and catch those human errors,” Mark Turpin said.
Turpin was watching our recent Fox Files report about the misrouted 911 call.
“It’s really sad that it did happen,” he said. “Laws were passed to prevent this type of tragedy from happening in the first place.”
He’s talking about Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act, which, in part, require 911 calls to connect with precise location.
“This is a huge problem. We talk to a number of businesses; they don’t even know this problem exists or how to solve it,” Turpin said.
Most landline phones are now connected to the internet, which means that they don’t automatically tell 911 where you are unless your employer or place of business does.
That’s why the call about TJ’s drowning went to a default 911 center in Colorado. St. Louis County says the problem is now fixed, reporting that 12 to 15 phones were lost from the system during an upgrade of more than 5,500 county phones.
“Testing is how you can ensure any human errors in the system can be worked out before someone’s life is on the line,” Turpin said.
Turpin says it’s why he got into the business. His company, 9Line, helps make sure employers are compliant.
Turpin added that if companies and governments do it right, finding a 911 caller is easier than ever. He said under the law, it’s required that just dialing 911 gives your precise location, even inside the building.
“So take the Met Center downtown. You can’t say 211 North Broadway. There’s 40 floors and a whole sublevel parking garage as well,” he said. “Where are you in that building? Ray Baum’s Act makes it a requirement. You have to say you’re at 211 N. Broadway, I’m on the 14th floor, I’m in the break room, so they can find you.
“60% of the community out there doesn’t even know these laws exist and out of the 40% that have said, ‘Yes, I know about these laws.’ It’s single digits who have actually implemented a solution to solve it.”
TJ Mister’s mother, Olga, recently learned about these laws and has added it to her list of things that need to improve.
“We assume it’s just taken care of, that’s what our assumption is, but what I’ve learned from this experience—from this tragedy is—don’t assume anything. Ask the questions,” she said.