Virginia man found dead after his 911 call was dismissed as a ‘butt dial’

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Fredricksburg, MD - Imagine calling 911 for a medical emergency, only to have your call dropped as a "butt dial!"

"There was one final cry for help," Michael Paulus, whose father dialed 911 in an emergency, recalled. "And nobody responded."

Yeah, that's apparently what happened to this Virginia man-- Robert Paulus-- after he called 911 one night but was unable to speak.

The original call's audio is now a fateful reminder of what happened. "Fredricksburg 911. What's your emergency? Hello?"

The 911 operator tried three times during the 18-second call to get a response, but then decided to just hang up.

The operator wrote off the call as a 'pocket call' or 'butt dial,' which means no call back is required.

"If you're in some kind of a medical situation where you can't respond, that's not a butt dial," Michael Paulus said. "That's a cry for help."

Turns out....Robert Paulus was found dead hours later in his apartment, having suffered an apparent heart attack.

Now his son is trying to cope with what happened.

"I might have been able to see my dad one more time," Paulus speculated. "I might have actually been able to say goodbye...you know, at least know he didn't die alone, either. That's the thing that kills me."

So the tragic call is under further investigation.

"I think this was an oversight," Fredricksburg Police Department Spokeswoman Sarah Kirkpatrick declared. "And I think that the police department is taking this very seriously by opening an internal investigation."

Paulus believes 911 policies should always require a call back. "I want things to change," he demanded. "I think policies need to be changed."

Perhaps those changes just might save a life.

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