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911 Call To Report Stuck Gas Pedal Reveals System Problems

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Andrea Lucia
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Speeding down I-30 at 120 miles an hour, 16-year-old Elez Lushaj dialed 911.

“I can’t stop. I cannot stop. The gas is stuck. I’ve tried pulling it up. I’ve tried hitting the brakes. I’ve tried the emergency brake,” he said, in a recording of the December call provided by the Rockwall County Sheriff’s Office.

Desperate for help, though, he became frustrated with the response.

“I’ve been transferred from police department to police department,” he said.

In an hour, Lushaj traveled through four counties, crossing about a dozen different law enforcement jurisdictions, each with its own 911 dispatch.

“I’m gonna put you back through to Hunt County because by the time I get an officer there, you’re gonna be in their jurisdiction,” one operator told him.

Without access to each other’s notes, operators asked the same questions over and over again.

At least four different operators asked Lushaj the color of his car, at different points in the recording.

By the time the chase reached Hopkins County, Rockwall County Tim Williamson, who’d been pursuing Lushaj, said law enforcement there wasn’t even sure whose car was in trouble.

“They said, they thought my accelerator was stuck. That’s the information they thought they got from their dispatch talking to my dispatch,” said Williamson.

“Every time you transfer the call and it’s a new system, you’re starting over,” said Christy Williams, chief program officer for the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

Williams says, 911 agencies across the state want to see systems upgraded and integrated.

“So we can share infrastructure and share data, so we don’t have to ask the same questions over and over again,” she explains.

To pay for the upgrades, NCTCOG wants to use money the state’s already collecting.

Every phone bill in Texas has a fifty cent charge included for 911 services.

For years, though, state lawmakers have used only a fraction of those dollars for their intended purpose.

“The key is in the funding,” said Williams.

She said, 911 agencies are aware they aren’t meeting customer expectations. Without adequate funding, she believes, that won’t change anytime soon.

After a 90 mile journey over several counties, Lushaj took a turn and crashed. His family is now directing all questions to an attorney, who has not returned our calls.

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