SAN DIEGO, CA (NBC) – A couple, whose three-day-old baby was killed by the family dog in what is being called a tragic accident, made two unsuccessful 911 calls Thursday night, the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) confirmed.
The mother and father of the newborn were watching television in bed with the baby and the dog Thursday when the mother suddenly coughed.
“The dog made contact with the baby leading to traumatic injuries,” Sgt. Tuu Nguyen, of the Child Abuse Unit San Diego Police Department, said.
The family waited 28 seconds before hanging up during their first 911 call, then waited an additional 34 seconds on their second emergency call before finally hanging up and driving the baby to the hospital themselves.
The newborn did not survive the injuries.
Neighbor Jimmy Xiu heard the family’s panic before seeing them race away to the hospital.
“Oh my god. That’s what I heard. Oh my God ,” Xiu said. “I heard them screaming and rushing to their car and their car rushing out.”
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family in this very tragic case. We know every second counts in an emergency,” Lt. Scott Wahl of SDPD said in a statement Saturday.
According to SDPD, between 7:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. when the family was calling for assistance, dispatch received 73 total 911 calls.
Wahl said they know from a study the police department did that nearly a quarter of 911 calls are pocket dials.
“They’re supposed to answer immediately and say ‘what’s the emergency?’ not wait until the person has to call back again,” neighbor Naomi Diaz said.
In an investigation NBC 7 found many local 911 calls are taking minutes, not seconds, and aside from pocket dials, understaffing is contributing to the problem.
Overtime is being required by the department until the dispatcher jobs are filled.
Offiicals said despite the long wait, it’s critical callers not hang up and stay on the phone.