Bad Cell Phone Reception Made Reporting Bus Accident More Difficult

by Anayeli Ruiz
NewsWest 9

REAGAN COUNTY - One of the biggest challenges in dealing with the Reagan County bus accident was communication. Bad cell phone reception stopped witnesses from calling 911 and the sheriff's office from phoning in information.

"We received a 911 call in Big Lake regarding a bus crash. Due to the cell phone service being really low in the area, it was really hard to get a lot of details," Jeff Garner with the Reagan County Sheriff's Office, said.

Not only is the reception out on Highway 137 bad but adding to these complications one of the cell phone towers in Big Lake was down.

"We have been having trouble with the AT&T cell phones. The tower has been giving us trouble," Destin Wilha with the Reagan Sheriff's Department, said.

So the response team did what they could to get the word out and get people on the scene as quickly as possible.

"EMS, Fire, sheriff personnel were sent through text message to tell them to respond to the scene," Wilha said.

And once authorities were on the scene, the cell phone service wasn't any better.

"Once we were there, cell phone service was little to none. We had to get on top a truck or fire truck," Wilha said.

In situations like these, deputies say you need to walk around to find a signal and keep trying to call 911.

"Keep trying 911, because if you do have a chance where you get cell phone signal for even a moment, 911 is going to be your best bet. A family member is not going to know exactly where you're at, whereas if you can get a 911 answering center, you may be able to give them some information and they're going to know the area," Wilha said.

Deputies also told NewsWest 9 to help out in situations like these, drivers need to be more aware of their surroundings and not rely so much on your GPS or cell phones.