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Friends of man killed in motorcycle crash question 911 response time

Detroit police supervisor under investigation

DETROIT – Calls to 911 after a deadly crash went unanswered and now Detroit police are explaining why operators didn't immediately pick up the calls.

Police said Blackwell was speeding on his motorcycle Saturday night on Fort Street near Schaefer Highway when he lost control and struck a light pole. 

Detroit police have launched an internal investigation into one supervisor's actions and are outlining the timeline of why the calls to 911 were not answered right away.

Michael Blackwell

When the friends of Michael Blackwell called 911 after he crashed his motorcycle, they say nobody answered.

A recording is what Blackwell's friends and other 911 callers in Detroit heard Saturday night. At the time of the crash, Detroit police Chief James Craig said 54 calls came into dispatch in 15 minutes, which forced the system to go into a recorded prompt.

Blackwell's friends admit they kept calling every time the recording picked up instead of a human.

Craig said in extreme circumstances, when a prompt picks up, calls should stay on the line.

"If they hang up or call back they go to the end again, so we want to make sure the community knows if you run into a situation where you go into a voice prompt after dialing 911, stay on the line," Craig said.

The family also said that a police car drove by while they were in distress, and because of that, police have launched an investigation.

"I don't have answers as to why the supervisor didn't stop," Craig said.

Police said the first call about the crash got through to dispatch at 11:19 p.m. Emergency medical services arrived by 11:25 p.m. The first squad car arrived at 12:05 a.m.

Watch the video above for the full report from Local 4 News at 11


About the Authors:

Kayla Clarke

Kayla is a web producer with an English degree from Michigan State University. Before joining the ClickOnDetroit team in 2018, she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.