"Should not have happened," DPD launches investigation into unanswered 911 calls after fatal crash

WEB UPDATE (6:50 p.m.): Detroit police say the first call to 911 was received at 11:19 Saturday night. It was connected and EMS was ordered. There were about 50 calls received regarding the crash, with some connected and others placed on hold. 

A spokesperson for the Detroit police wanted to be clear that EMS was ordered after the first call. 

-The original story is below-

Michael Blackwell was laying on the ground, bleeding profusely. He had been in a motorcycle accident. His friends said he still had a pulse, but couldn't when they called 911, there was no answer.

"During that period of time, there were 51 calls coming into the 911 center. Not an excuse certainly that's something we have to contend with at times," said Detroit Police Chief James Craig, "but relative to this issue, what happened should not have happened."

Instead, when Blackwell's friends dialed the emergency number, their calls were instead answered by an automated recording asking them to stay on the line for the next available operator. 

The Detroit Police Department said this happens during heavy call volumes. However, Blackwell's friends instead kept hanging up and calling back, hoping for an answer.

"It was frustrating and it was worrisome because we had our buddy, a really good friend of ours, laying on the ground, bleeding pretty bad and we just needed help immediately," said Blake Shopshear, a friend of Blackwell's. "We tried getting help as soon as we could and nobody was coming."

The unanswered calls have become only half the story however. As the panicked friends reached out by phone, they saw a squad car drove by the crash scene and didn't stop. Both witnesses and Craig confirm a unit did pass by the wreck.

"He should have stopped. There was no reason he shouldn't have," Shopshear said. "You run into a situation like this and there's a bike laying there and someone on the ground and blood all over and kids freaking out, waving him down and everything and he just didn't stop."

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Craig told reporters that it's one issue when people can't get ahold of a live person when they're experiencing an emergency. It's a whole other problem when a uniformed officer "in the area of the tragedy" ignored the scene and kept going.

Blackwell's friends eventually did flag down an ambulance. But it was too late for the 22-year-old.

"Things could have played out differently, I'm almost positive," Shopshear said. "I was here, I seen it from start to finish."