New iPhone technology alerts Lincoln Police of fatal weekend crash

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) — Lincoln police have been briefed on a devastating accident over the weekend that killed six people thanks to the latest iPhone technology.

Lincoln Police said this week the car was traveling at high speed when it crossed the street and collided with a tree in an east Lincoln neighborhood.

“I put on a pair of shoes real quick and came outside to see this horrible car that was wrapped around the tree,” Brad Bartak said in an interview with 6 News on Sunday. The car crashed into the tree in his front yard.

“I responded immediately, another gentleman came down the street and helped me, someone, a friend of my daughter’s, called 911,” he said.

That 911 call came just minutes after the accident, but the Lincoln Police Department was already aware of it.

“The first call that came in on this particular incident was from an Apple 14,” says Jessica Loos, communications manager at the LPD 911 call center.

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An iPhone belonging to a passenger in the car itself called 911 after detecting the impact of the crash.

“The owner of this iPhone was in a serious car accident and is not responding to his phone,” says an automated voice in the 911 call recording.

It’s a new feature on the iPhone 14. A 20-second countdown begins after a crash. If no one cancels it, it calls emergency services.

“So the call is actually like any other call at first,” says Loos. “The difference with this is that the technology provides the dispatcher with the information, rather than the dispatcher being able to ask the necessary questions to determine the location.”

The automatic recording continues: “The emergency location is latitude 40.8058, longitude -96.6433 with an estimated search radius of 36 meters. This message will be repeated in five seconds.”

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According to Loos, there are other techs and apps that are similar, and they’re getting calls from the tech on an almost regular basis.

But this was the first time a call had come directly from an iPhone. According to Loos, the device was able to provide first responders with almost the exact location of the crash.

“When we split the latitude and longitude from the Apple device, the plot of this location was very close to the actual accident, you’re looking directly across the street.”

Loos is excited about the spread of this type of technology. She remembers the days before there were those calls.

“It’s really remarkable to see that these technologies didn’t exist when I originally started this career,” she says. “Those who have served in this capacity for our communities for any length of time can recall moments in our past in those careers where you answer a phone call and there’s silence on the other end of the line, you have no information, you We’re really just hoping that something in the background lets you know where this call is coming from or what the need is.”

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Although the outcome of Sunday’s crash was devastating, Loos says the technology can still be life-saving by sharing where help is needed.

“This technology, as it evolves, not only empowers the user to share that information, but empowers the telecoms specialist on the front lines to get an immediate response there.”

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