Accidental 9-1-1 call from school ties up APD resources

An Ashland Middle School boy accidentally called 9-1-1 while playing dodgeball Monday morning, tying up police resources for more than an hour while officers tried to locate the boy.

Somehow the boy's cell phone turned on in his pocket and called 9-1-1, using a speed dial function, Assistant Principal Ken Kigel said.

The call was left open and 9-1-1 dispatchers could hear yelling in the background because the boy was playing dodgeball in the middle school gym at lunchtime, Kigel said.

"We're hearing screaming and a young lady saying stop it and all this kind of stuff," said Sgt. Hector Meletich with the Ashland Police Department. "We don't know it's just an accident."

All of the officers on duty at the department were asked respond to the 9-1-1 call, he said.

Meanwhile, the boy, whose identity was not released because of his age, was unaware he had made the call, Kigel said.

"He had no idea it was even happening," he said. "He probably got hit in dodgeball and that turned the phone on and hit the speed dial."

The boy wasn't breaking any rules by having his phone turned off in his pocket, Kigel said. Students are required to have their cell phones turned off while on campus, he said. The majority of students have a cell phone, he said.

Kigel and Principal Steve Retzlaff searched the school alongside police officers. Meanwhile, other police officials were trying to communicate with the boy, because the call was still open.

"We're searching class by class, and then we go to the gymnasium," Meletich said. "All kids think it's funny, but we don't think it's funny. This was a serious mistake."

Meletich said the incident shows how accidental 9-1-1 calls can divert police resources — sometimes at the expense of others who really need help.

"Maybe parents need to revisit the whole idea of cell phone responsibly on a campus," he said.

Kigel said most middle school students are responsible with their cell phones on campus, including the boy who accidentally called 9-1-1.

"This is something that could happen to anybody," he said. "If you have something on speed dial it's so easy to hit something in your pocket."

The boy wasn't apprehended for the call, because it was an accident, Meletich said.

"He was just reminded that this is a mistake that we don't want to make often," he said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

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