Originally Posted by Xtatic
Debra Stevens was working her normal newspaper delivery route in Fort Smith, Arkansas, when rising flood waters began to overtake her SUV.
The final, desperate 911 call of the 47-year-old woman who delivered the Southwest Times Record to front doors came at 4:38 on the morning of August 24. It was a panicked, 22-minute plea for help with a dispatcher that the Fort Smith Police Department admitted sounded "calloused and uncaring at times."
"I have an emergency -- a severe emergency," Stevens told the female dispatcher. "I can't get out, and I'm scared to death, ma'am. Can you please help me?"
A terrified Stevens told the dispatcher over and over that she was going to die in the rapidly rising water. She wept and asked when help would arrive. She didn't know how to swim, she said. She had trouble describing her location. She didn't want to die, she said.
"You're not going to die," the dispatcher said in audio released by police this week. "I don't know why you're freaking out ... You freaking out is doing nothing but losing your oxygen in there. So, calm down."
Stevens said water was pouring into her car. It would soon ruin her new phone.
"Do you really care about your brand new phone?" asked the dispatcher, who happened to be working her final shift that morning. "You're over there crying for your life. Who cares about your phone?"
Dispatcher scolds Stevens for driving into water
Stevens said she didn't see the water on the road. She came up on it suddenly. The water was getting as high as her chest, she said. She could see people in the distance looking at her. They're probably laughing, she said.
"Ma'am, I'm sorry," Stevens cried.
Stevens needed to vomit, she said at one point.
"Well, you're in water, you can throw up," the dispatcher said. "It's not going to matter."
Crying uncontrollably, Stevens asked the woman on the line to pray with her.
"You go ahead and start off the prayer," the 911 operator said.
"Please help and get me out of this water, dear Father," Stevens said.
Again, she apologized. She didn't mean to rude. But she was so afraid.
"This will teach you next time don't drive in the water," the dispatcher told her.
Stevens insisted she didn't see the flood waters. She'd worked her paper route for 21 years and never experienced anything like this.
"I don't know how you didn't see it. You had to go right over it. The water just didn't appear."
'You're going to have to shut up,' dispatcher says
About 15 minutes into the recording, the dispatcher is heard taking other calls. Police said many stranded residents were calling that morning.
Stevens wept on the line. The dispatcher tried to describe to firefighters the stranded woman's location.
"I'm on the phone with her," she said. "She's freaking out."
Now, 18 minutes into the call, the dispatcher was asking a firefighter whether he could see Stevens' SUV. "Negative," he said. There was confusion about her location.
The stranded motorist cried uncontrollably.
"Miss Debbie, you're going to have to shut up," the dispatcher said. "Can you honk your horn?"
"My horn is dead," Stevens said. "Everything is dead."
Stevens' body was found 58 minutes after the call
The water was rising above the door of her SUV, Stevens said. "Oh, Lord help me," she cried. Rescuers were trying to find her, the operator said.
"Oh my god, my car is starting to move," Stevens cried.
"OK, listen to me, I know," the dispatcher said. "I'm trying to get you help... I know you're scared. Just hold on for me because I've got to take other calls."
Stevens screamed. She said couldn't breathe.
"I'm on the phone with her right now," the dispatcher said to a rescuer. "She is legit freaking out."
"I'm going to die!" Stevens said.
"Miss Debbie, you're breathing just fine because you are screaming at me. So, calm down. I know you're scared. Hold on for me."
Stevens is not heard again.
"Miss Debbie? Miss Debbie?" the dispatcher said. "Oh my God. She sounds like she's under water now."
The call ended at 5 a.m.
Rescuers reached Stevens' SUV some 58 minutes later. They tried unsuccessfully to revive her.