New iPhone technology alerts Lincoln Police of fatal weekend crash

It’s a new feature on the iPhone 14. After a crash, a 20-second countdown begins. If no one cancels it, it calls emergency services.
Police in Lincoln first got an alert about a devastating car crash over the weekend.
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 10:22 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Police in Lincoln were alerted to a devastating weekend crash that claimed six lives thanks to the newest iPhone technology.

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

“I threw on some shoes real quick, and came outside to see this horrific car wrapped around the tree,” said Brad Bartak in an interview with 6 News on Sunday. The car crashed into the tree on his front lawn.

“I immediately reacted, another gentleman came from down the street and helped me, someone, one of my daughter’s friends called 911,″ he said.

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

“The first call received on this specific incident was from an Apple 14,″ says Jessica Loos, the communications manager at the LPD 911 call center.

An iPhone from a passenger inside the car called 911 by itself after it detected the crash impact.

“The owner of this iPhone was in a severe car crash and is not responding to their phone,” an automated voice is heard saying in the 911 call recording.

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

“So the call initially actually presents itself as any other call would,” Loos says. “The difference with this one is that it’s the technology providing the information to the dispatcher instead of the dispatcher having the opportunity to ask the questions necessary to determine the location.”

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

Loos says there are other technologies and apps that are similar, and they get calls from the technology almost regularly.

But this was the first time a call came directly from an iPhone. Loos says the device was able to provide almost the exact location of the crash for first responders.

“When we shared the latitude and longitude from the Apple device, the plotting of that location was within a very short distance of the actual accident occurring, you’re looking at just right across the street from it.”

Loos is glad to see this type of technology expands. She remembers the days before these calls were around.

“It’s really quite outstanding to see that when I started in this career originally, these technologies were not around,” she says. “Those that have served in this capacity for our communities for a length of time can recall moments throughout our past in these careers where you take a call and its silent on the other end of the line, you don’t have any information, you’re really just hopeful something in the background is going to key you into where this call is coming from or what the need is.”

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

“This technology evolving really empowers, not just the user to share that information, but really empowers the front line telecommunicator to get a response there immediately.”