911 delay: Car crash victims wait 50 minutes for Denver police

DENVER -- When people call 911, they likely expect a fast response. That’s not what they’re getting in Denver, according to complaints received by the FOX31 Problem Solvers.

Victims of a Wednesday night crash at East 13th Avenue and Lincoln Street in downtown Denver waited 50 minutes after calling 911.

During the wait, close calls were witnessed as cars swerved and came to a full stop to avoid hitting a disabled vehicle damaged in the collision.

The crash left one car on a sidewalk and a second impeding traffic on Lincoln Street.

“There was a public safety concern in the middle of the road,” crash victim Katie Clifford said.

Clifford was a passenger in one of the involved cars. She showed on her cellphone that she called 911 to report the crash at 10:50 p.m. It was the start of what Clifford calls the long wait for the Denver Police Department.

“We almost hit it,” passerby Morgan Meiser said.

Meiser said she’s lucky she and a friend swerved just at the right time.

After nearly hitting the car on Lincoln, the duo stopped to help. FOX31 reporter Michael Konopasek, driving by the scene, called 911 at 11:06 p.m. and told dispatchers a car was impeding traffic.

“There were many other cars that were passing by,” Meiser said.

At 11:36 p.m., a fire department SUV stopped at the scene. The man driving the SUV asked if everyone was OK.

Konopasek told of the fire department official of the now 46-minute wait time. When the firefighter was asked if he could help control traffic, the firefighter said no and drove away.

“If he’d offer an explanation … or something … it would’ve made me feel a little better,” Clifford said.

At 50 minutes, an officer arrived to protect the scene.

The Denver Fire Department admitted it could have done more. The department also said the firefighter who stopped called dispatch after driving away.

Police said dispatchers notified an officer 45 minutes after the first 911 call. After that officer was assigned to the crash, it took him about five minutes to get to the scene.

“Are there enough employees,” Clifford asked. “Is there an issue with dispatch? It raises a lot of questions and concerns.”

Police said the crash was considered noninjury, meaning other calls took priority. One of the drivers involved, an elderly woman, was taken to a hospital by ambulance as a precaution.