After 911 refused to respond to two calls for help, a car accident took the lives of a 5-month-old boy and his 26-year-old aunt, Tiffany Wilkins. Family members wonder if this tragedy could have been prevented.
On Aug. 30, baby Tyrese Parker and his family were stranded on an interstate in Memphis, Tennessee, when their car stalled.
"We called 911," Tonya Wilkins, Tiffany's sister, told Fox 13. "[The operator] was telling us how it was a non-emergency and gave us the roadside assistance number."
Roadside assistance reportedly told the family that service was not available after 7:00 p.m.
"My mom was just pleading, saying, 'We have cars on both sides of us shaking the car, we really need some help out here, we don't have anybody to help us,'" Tonya said. "They were like, 'Sorry, there's nothing we can do, we're out of service.'"
With nowhere else to turn, they called a family member.
"We ended up calling 911 back, and they still couldn't do anything for us," Tonya said. "That's when we called Tiffany."
The family was loading into Tiffany's car when another car hit them. The crash killed Tiffany and Tyrese and injured other family members, including the baby's mother and grandmother.
"It's just a tragedy that could've been avoided," Tonya said. "It could've been avoided if we could've gotten more help than what we got, which was nothing."
Fox 13 contacted the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and Memphis Police Department (MPD). Representatives from TDOT said emergency roadside assistance employees stop working at 8:30 p.m. on Sundays. The fatal crash occurred just after 9:00 p.m.
TDOT added that people should call highway patrol when stranded during off-hours, which will connect them to emergency services.
The family contacted 911 twice, both before and after calling roadside assistance.
"911 is for help," Tonya said. "If you're calling them and they can't help you, who can help you?"
MPD has yet to verify the 911 calls.
Fox 13 has put in a Freedom of Information request for the audio from the family's 911 calls.