Arizona man dies after outage stops neighbors from calling 911

An Arizona man died after a phone and internet outage prevented his neighbors from calling 911 — or anyone else — to help him with a medical emergency.

St John’s Police told The Arizona Republic that a 74-year-old man died on his way to the hospital after a pair of bystanders managed to flag down a passing ambulance in their town.

Police said that criminal activity involving equipment belonging to Frontier Communications, which provides phone and internet service, caused the two-day outage.

It is the first time that police have directly linked a death to communication service outages.

It is the first time that police have directly linked a death to communication service outages.

A young girl also accidentally impaled herself on a curtain rod, and her mother was also unable to contact anyone for help.

The outage occurred on Saturday and left hundreds of thousands without power until 3pm on Monday when service was restored.

St Johns Polie Chief Lance Spivey expressed frustration to The Arizona Republic that the outages — which are not infrequent in the community — prevented them from doing their job to protect public safety.

“Public safety professionals in this region — we deserve better, the public deserves better,” he said. “We take our profession very seriously and when we can’t do our job protecting basic human life or provide medical treatment appropriately, it’s shameful.”

The outages became such an issue that the Arizona Corporation Commission investigated Frontier Communications over the incidents. It found that going back as far as 2020 outages were disrupting emergency services.

The commission found that between April 2020 and April 2021, there was 66 hours of 911 service interruptions caused by outages.

“Frontier demonstrated that while it was prepared to respond to outages, it appeared not to be doing enough to prevent the outages,” the commission determined after the investigation.

The communications company issued a statement to several news organisations following the outage.

“We have long been committed to providing this critical infrastructure to St. John[sic]. We have offered to discuss the network redundancy with the Arizona Corporation Commission, the Arizona Department of Administration, and the industry in order to work toward a solution that ensures reliability when the technology has been damaged due to causes such as weather or vandalism, as in this instance,” it said in the statement.

The company also offered an up-to $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the individual who vandalised their equipment and caused the outage.

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