ONLY ON 3: New Hanover Co. mother uses translator to report kidnapping


NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — We are learning more details from 911 calls about the moment a mother in New Hanover County realized someone had kidnapped her 6-year-old daughter.

There were some delays on the 911 call, because of a language barrier.

Deputies say the first 24 hours of a kidnapping are the most crucial. No mother wants to make that 911 call, but it is also crucial as the clock starts ticking.

“911,” the dispatched said when she answered.
“Por favor, habla Espanol?” the mother asked.

Within the first second of this 911 call, the mother faces an obstacle, a language barrier. New Hanover County Emergency Management Spokesman Charles Smith said dispatchers in this situation, immediately connect the call to a company called Voiance.

“Once we have an interpreter on the line, they quickly identify what language it is,” Smith said. “Predominantly, it is typically Spanish, however their capabilities include about 181 languages.”

Within a couple of minutes there is a translator on the line.

Dispatcher: “Tell me exactly what happened.”
Translator: “A guy took, a guy was passing on a motor and they took my daughter just one minute ago.”

A very emotional mother continues giving the translator information.

Dispatcher: “Ok. Who is he?”
Translator: “I don’t know. I don’t know. I. I. It was only like a minute ago. I didn’t see him, but my child, she’s a four-year-old, she came inside and told me that they took her sister, a guy in a motorcycle.”

Smith said these calls do take longer, but this system actually helps their response time.

“Probably one of the biggest benefits is the county doesn’t have to have an interpreter for the predominant language of Spanish on each shift, so again it expands our capabilities,” Smith said.

In this case, after an 11 minute 911 call, 100 officers, and more than 15 hours of searching, this was heard on radio traffic.

“The subject has been found,” the dispatcher said.

It brought a sigh of relief across the Cape Fear.

The sheriff said Douglas Edwards,46, a sex offender, is in custody charged with first-degree kidnapping and indecent liberties with a minor. He is in jail under a $9 million bond.

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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