Police explain why it took 6 times longer to respond to hit-and-run crash

by: Liz Artz Updated:

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ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned why it took police more than 40 minutes to get to a hit-and-run crash caught on camera.

Dispatch officials spoke about the problems they encountered as they tried to respond to the chaos.

The deputy director of the 911 call center said it took 43 minutes for Atlanta police to respond to the incident on the Buford Highway Connector.

A dispatch director told Channel 2's Liz Artz it was difficult to get to the scene because it's difficult to get on and off the road. But on the day of the wreck, which is raising concern, it took police six times longer to respond than it normally does.

Channel 2 has learned another driver made a 911 call seven minutes after Artz and her photographer called 911 after noticing 36-year-old Darren Braun passed out on the Buford Connector.

"He's either drunk or very sick or something is clearly wrong with him," Artz told dispatchers.

The first call Artz made to 911 was at 3:46 p.m. By 4:01 - more than 20 minutes after the first call was made - Artz called a second time.

"They said they checked northbound and southbound and didn't locate it," the dispatcher said.

It took Atlanta police 43 minutes to respond. By then Braun had scuffled with a HERO worker, caused a 5-car collision, and managed to jump a fence laced with barbed wire and flee. During the entire ordeal Artz was on the phone with an operator.

"We are not pleased with the amount of time it took anyone to arrive on this one," said Capt. Darin Schierbaum.

Schierbaum said the first call was listed as a priority 3. He said Artz's call was upgraded to a 2, giving it a higher priority. He said there were several factors to the delayed response time.

He cited other emergencies at the same time, including officers' proximity to the scene and the difficulty getting on and off the Buford Connector.

"Realizing there is some confusion as far as the exact location," Schierbaum said.

He said this incident has prompted the call center to make changes.

"We want to be able to break down the Buford Connector into a more manageable location so they can find it," Schierbaum said.

Atlanta's 911 call center handles 1.1 million calls a year, which is about 2,500 calls a day. The average response time for police is about seven minutes.