Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to investigate a 911 call that was reported to be dropped when Timothy Davison was crossing the Maryland/Pennsylvania border before he was shot along Interstate 81. In his letter, Senator Casey asked for the FCC to review why the call was dropped and to recommend ways to improve cell service in rural areas, especially during emergency calls.
“Law Enforcement at the state and federal level are investigating this terrible crime to ensure the person who committed this act is brought to justice. As the investigation moves forward it’s important to understand why the victim’s call was dropped and what can be done to improve cell service in rural areas,” Senator Casey said. “Too often quality cell service is lacking and that could have an impact in emergency situations. I’m urging the FCC to look at this issue and examine ways that cell service in rural areas can be improved.”
The full text of Senator Casey’s letter is below:
The Honorable Tom Wheeler
Federal Communications Commission
Dear Chairman Wheeler:
I am writing in regard to the recent tragedy that occurred along Interstate 81 near the Maryland and Pennsylvania border. This event highlights the continued need to address concerns about coverage and reliability of the telecommunication system in rural areas.
Reports state that in the early morning hours of January 4, 2014, a driver called 911 on his cell phone while driving north on Interstate 81 near the Maryland and Pennsylvania border. While in Maryland the driver reported a truck was chasing him up the highway while shooting at him. Unfortunately, it was reported that the phone call was dropped as he crossed into Pennsylvania, forcing the individual to make a second call to 911 dispatchers. When the police arrived on the scene, they found the vehicle forced off the road and the young man shot several times. Tragically, the man later died from his injuries.
I respectfully ask that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigate this heartbreaking incident and study how we can improve mobile telecommunication services in rural areas. While I understand the FCC is aware of the concerns that rural communities face when dealing with dropped calls or poor quality services, I believe a renewed effort must be made to drastically improve these services. I also ask that your office take a particular look at how emergency services and responses are being affected by poor quality phone service.
Phone services are vital to rural communities and we must ensure we are striving to expand new and updated technologies to all Americans regardless of where they live. I appreciate your attention to this matter, and I look forward to your response.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator