New 911 texting service may have saved victim's life

COLUMBUS, Ind. - A new way to call for help may have saved a woman’s life in Columbus on Thursday.

While in danger, the woman was able to text the Emergency Operations 911 Center to get help when her boyfriend was threatening her.

Authorities believe the texting service kept the victim safe. They said if the suspect heard the victim calling 911, the situation could have gone from bad to worse.

Emergency operator Heather Allen received a hang-up call just before 2:30 a.m. She knew it was from a cellphone and followed protocol by texting: "This is Bartholomew County 911, we received a hang up call from you. Do you have an emergency?"

One minute later, the victim texted back "yes" and gave her address. She then texted, "Please hurry boyfriend won’t let me answer door don’t text back."

"This was actually my first time using the texting service where there actually was an emergency where somebody responded back to me," Allen said.

Because the victim texted her address, Allen was able to quickly do a search revealing important information for the responding officers.

"I could immediately look at the call history and see that there was a history of domestics, batteries -- that sort of thing," Allen said.

Ed Reuter is a former Indiana State Police trooper and the director of the Bartholomew County Emergency Operations Center.

"She was not in a position to talk to a dispatcher because of the fear that she was in and the situation she was in at the time," Reuter said.

Police said the victim was being threatened at knife point inside a home by the suspect, 43-year-old William Booker.

"It was my understanding she was in a locked room away from the suspect when she tried to make contact, and then when she did respond back to us, she told us she needed help right away," Reuter said.

"This was one of a million cases where, who knows what could have happened if she hadn't been able to text. And if the boyfriend had known the police were on the way, he could have -- it could have turned out real tragically," Allen said.

Follow Drew Smith on Twitter: @drewsmith1

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