Beach Chair Cup Holders Causing Dozens Of Accidental 911 Calls At Bear Lake

Jul 6, 2021, 6:41 PM | Updated: 11:28 pm

BEAR LAKE STATE PARK, Utah — Dozens of accidental 911 calls have tied up dispatchers around Bear Lake and authorities said it’s happening more often as people look for heat relief on the beaches. 

Dispatchers said it’s all related to boats and beach chair cup holders, and it happens mostly with iPhones. 

“I put it in the cup holder and walked away and started to hear the sirens going off on it,” said Ann Wells.  

Her sister-in-law, Jessica Chapman, knew exactly what that sound was Tuesday afternoon.

“So I was like, ‘Oh no! It’s calling 911! Hurry and stop it!’ But uh, we didn’t make it in time,” she said. 

Jessica Chapman (KSL TV)

It has happened to her as well. 

“I recently was at a swim meet, using that same chair, and three times, I kept hearing this siren thing,” Chapman explained. “And then I picked up my phone. I saw it was calling 911. I was like ‘Ahhh!’” 

For dispatchers down the road in Randolph, when they answer the 911 call, all they hear is a garbled conversation. 

“Yeah, when you get 50 of those in a day, and only four or five of them are real calls, it is a problem because we have to hang on the line,” said Joey Stocking, a dispatcher with the Rich County Sheriff’s office. 

Stocking said those butt-dials make up roughly 90% of their calls right now. 

“If I take a 911 call, I’m tied up. I can’t listen to my officers on the radio and I can’t answer other 911 calls,” he said. 

He said those cup-holders end up pushing the right buttons to call 911. 

Dispatcher Joey Stocking says he gets up to 40 accidental 911 calls every day. (KSL TV) Stocking said to turn off the 'Auto call' option under the 'Emergency SOS' setting on your phone. (KSL TV)

“It starts counting down,” he described as he demonstrated the problem on a phone and a siren sounded. “It will make that noise, but people don’t hear it because they’re out on the beach. And there, now we’ve dialed 911.” 

That’s why he’s asking people to shut off that option in their phone settings. 

“Just scroll down until you see emergency SOS. That’s where you click ‘on’. And so there’s two options, and the problem is this auto call,” said Stocking.

Once they know, most people agree that it’s worth shutting off. 

“I’m just more embarrassed, I guess than anything,” Wells said. “Like, that was too easy, I guess to call 911.” 

Ann Wells (KSL TV)

Stocking said if you do accidentally dial 911, just stay on the line and tell the operator that it was an accident. That way they don’t have to call you back. 

Even if it seems like an accident, they still have to make sure everyone’s okay.  

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Beach Chair Cup Holders Causing Dozens Of Accidental 911 Calls At Bear Lake