MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Investigators said a woman made a lifesaving phone call, but she didn’t realize the life she was saving was her own.
The tense story unfolded Wednesday morning at Jimmy Nash City Park in Martinsville. Police said the woman left a voicemail for her brother. They said she was recently divorced and just lost her job.
Police said the voicemail was basically a suicide note, a chance for her to say goodbye to her brother. But the message, combined with crafty police work, is the reason she’s still alive.
“We came up the hill just because this is a more desolate area,” described Officer Dawn Hoffman as she stood deep in Jimmy Nash Park. “We located the female’s vehicle. We walked up and found that the female was unresponsive.”
She makes it sound so easy how she managed to find a woman who police said overdosed on pain pills, told her brother she was going to kill herself, but never said where it was going to happen.
“We originally had responded to her residence,” said Officer Hoffman. “When we didn’t find her there, that’s when we contacted our dispatch and they were able to ping the phone.”
“Ping” basically means using GPS tracking to determine where a cell phone was recently used. Officer Hoffman gave the phone number to Morgan County dispatchers who then contacted the phone provider.
“(Providers) will make communications with our dispatcher (and( give us updates. I believe it’s every 15 minutes on the location of the last usage of the phone,” she said.
That location happened to be the park. Knowing the woman could be anywhere, Officer Hoffman had a hunch to go up the hill to a spot less traveled. She said, “It was a possibility that she wasn’t at this location and had moved so this was just our first hopes and we were lucky.”
Luck that some might argue is really just good police work.
“If it wasn’t for the diligence of our dispatchers that communicate with the cell phone provider, then this situation would have been a lot different,” she said.
Officer Hoffman said “pinging” a phone is just another tool in their toolbox and people should know it can be used in situations where they feel someone’s life is in danger.
“They can call the police and we are able to get in touch with that provider, if we know who it is, and try to track them down. It makes things a lot easier and a lot quicker,” she said.
Police said they’ve pinged phones when a person has gone missing, and even in domestic violence cases.
The woman who police said tried to kill herself was rushed to IU Health Bloomington. No word on her condition late Wednesday night.