SAFETY

Department of Public Safety investigating after Amber Alert causes confusion, jams 511 phone line

Nov 21, 2019, 5:39 PM | Updated: Nov 22, 2019, 9:50 am
File: a user on an iPhone. Photo: Shutterstock via CNN

Update: Webb has released a letter from her attorney.

CLINTON, Utah – The Amber Alert that flashed across cell phone screens late Wednesday night across the Wasatch Front directed many people to the 511 phone line for more information on missing 3-week-old Audrey Westfall.

But all those calls overwhelmed the system, with many people hearing busy signals or nothing at all.

Utah Department of Public Safety Spokesperson Marissa Cote says law enforcement directs people to 511 during an Amber Alert when they do not have a vehicle description.

“Unfortunately, we did have the occurrence of too many people calling the line, and so, people did not receive the information they should have,” Cote said during a news conference on Thursday.

Cote says they review what went right and what went wrong after every Amber Alert, and they will study what happened Wednesday.

“We’re going to fix what didn’t go well. It’s important that we’re getting that information out there. We take it very seriously,” Cote said.

However, she also pointed out that other notifications like highway billboards worked without a hitch.

It’s believed Audrey Westfall’s mother, Taylor Webb, abducted her from her grandmother’s house in Clinton, Utah and may be taking her to Modesto, California.

Cote also addressed another confusing Amber Alert sent two months ago that jammed phone lines.

Cote says the “gry toyt” message was sent by South Salt Lake Police who were investigating the disappearance of a baby, who was later found safe. Cote says law enforcement agencies are no longer using shorthand in alerts because it was too confusing.

Today’s Top Stories

Safety

Map of Layton City firework restrictions...
Waverly Golden

Layton City is under extreme firework restrictions

A Facebook post by Layton City said a firework ban is in place east of Highway 89 and hazard zones. Citations will be issued for violations.
2 days ago
Photo of Riverton Police, the ones who sent out the amber alert, vehicle...
Mark Jones

8-year-old boy struck by car in Riverton, suffers head injury

Riverton police an 8-year-old boy suffered a head injury Friday night after a collision with a vehicle. The boy was transported to Primary Children's Hospital.
3 days ago
Utah deadliest days UHP investigates double fatal accident....
Mark Jones

One person dead in three-vehicle crash in southern Utah

The Utah Highway Patrol reports that one person died Friday following a three-vehicle crash in southern Utah. One other person was transported to the hospital with injuries.
3 days ago
Herbert Cox statement Reyes election lawsuit...
Mark Jones

State of Utah files lawsuit against pharmaceutical retailers

Three pharmaceutical retailers are facing a lawsuit from the State of Utah. The lawsuit was filed the week of July 1.
3 days ago
A heart attack occurs every 40 seconds in America, and heart disease is the number one killer of me...
Curt Gresseth

Be Ready Utah: CPR training (for when someone stops breathing)

A heart attack happens every 40 seconds in the US. KSL 5 TV's Shara Park explains the importance of her CPR training and why everyone should be trained.
3 days ago
Two people have been gored by bison at Yellowstone National Park in less than a week. An expert at ...
Mark Jones

Expert says to give bison their space and distance

An expert at Antelope Island State Park says bison need to be given their space and distance. This message comes after two people were gored by bison at Yellowstone National Park
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Department of Public Safety investigating after Amber Alert causes confusion, jams 511 phone line