CLEVELAND, Ohio-- The FOX 8 I-Team has obtained recordings that show what happened as a trooper waited more than five minutes to talk to a Cleveland ambulance dispatcher after a deadly hit-and-run crash.
The incident happened Saturday night on Interstate 480. It left one woman dead and another hurt. Earlier, the I-Team revealed delays getting calls to an EMS dispatcher.
Now, 911 recordings show a state trooper transferred from a Cleveland police dispatcher to an EMS call taker. However, the phone rings and rings, and repeatedly, recordings kick in saying, "please do not hang up," and ‘"all operators are busy."
After a few minutes, you can hear the police dispatcher get back on the line and say, "Hey I'm still here, OK? Sorry about the delay."
Meantime, a witness followed the hit-and-run driver and got a license plate.
Finally, the trooper got through to EMS after five and a half minutes. The tapes show citizen callers also frustrated waiting to talk to an ambulance dispatcher.
Troopers said they arrested the suspect a short distance away. Investigators said Clark Justen had heroin, and he was high.
The tapes show a citizen approached his car moments after the crash. It appeared Justen got off the highway and was incoherent. The caller said, "I don't know if he's drunk. I tried to talk to him. Somebody's got to break the window and turn this vehicle off."
This case exposed a chronic problem—delays getting calls to Cleveland EMS. The city has been meeting with union leaders to figure out better ways to do things. The city said it’s changing some procedures, adding more staff, and planning to install a new computer system. However, those improvements won’t happen overnight.