George Treadaway drowned on the phone with 911 dispatchers as his car filled up with water.
On a rainy Saturday afternoon in December 2016, Gordon County 911 dispatchers received a hang-up call.
The dispatcher called the number back. It was George Treadaway. He said his car was filling up with water.
Then the connection was lost.
With the assistance of the cell phone provider, the dispatcher tried to ping the cell phone used to make the 911 call.
But to the 911 system, George’s phone was invisible.
The ping indicated the phone was located at Old Rome Dalton Road north of Highway 156 in the woods near chicken houses – more than three miles away from the car’s actual location.
By this point, Treadaway’s car was likely already underwater.
The cell phone provider traced the car to its last known location, which was more than three miles away – and in the opposite direction.
George Treadaway was fighting for his life.
Rescuers had two addresses to search for the drowning man.
Both turned out to be wrong.
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There was no water on that wooded hill because Treadaway called 911 from the flooded valley three miles away.
"We found out the next day that there had been a 911 call and they had communicated with someone which was him," said Treadaway's son-in-law Ivan Holden.
But somehow, Gordon County dispatchers didn't know one of their own 911 operators had talked with a drowning George Treadaway hours earlier.
“He did tell the dispatcher that the car was filling up with water and they could hear that on the 911 tape," Holden said.
Gordon County 911 said George Treadaway drowned on the phone with the dispatcher. But the county didn't even send anyone out to search the floodwaters for George's sunken car until his family reported him missing nearly five hours later.
Two days later, Treadaway's body was recovered from his car in 12 feet of water at Reeves Station Road.
George Treadaway was lost on the line.
Still Lost on the Line: More than three years later, despite the national attention the story received through 11Alive Chief Investigator Brendan Keefe’s Peabody Award-winning investigation -- and possible solutions -- 911 is still broken and lives are still in danger.
While government officials and phone carriers work on deployment, more people are dying. The Parkland school massacre in Florida is recent example where the first 911 call from inside the school went to the wrong 911 center because of the same misrouting design that killed Shanell Anderson. Sunday night at 6 on The Reveal, we will examine the new deaths, while exploring the red tape that has seen this problem extend from one administration to the next.
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