The victim reportedly told a Yavapai County dispatcher at 12:30 p.m. Friday that he had run off I-17 and was severely injured. He said he was with his 7-year-old son and that they were five miles south of a rest area. The dispatcher contacted the Arizona Department of Public Safety, which reported that it sent officers to try and locate the crash.
“We sent five DPS officers to the area,” said Sgt. Kevin Wood. “They were looking for evidence of anything that would be recent in the way of a collision. They just didn’t find anything.”
Wood said they also tried to return the 911 call to the caller’s cell phone. He said they did not launch a helicopter to assist in the search. “We just cannot send the helicopter every time DPS gets a single call about a possible collision somewhere in Arizona,” he said.
A Chandler police officer was investigating the disappearance of the father and son on Sunday when he heard about the 911 call. He alerted the DPS and asked that a helicopter be dispatched. The bodies of the man and his son were found in a 200-foot ravine near Black Canyon City. Both had been ejected from the vehicle.
Investigators now say they are looking at whether the call was made before the crash, as survival seemed unlikely. They have verified through phone records that he is the one who placed the 911 call.
The 911 tapes were released on Wednesday, which recorded the victim’s pleas for help. The victim’s wife reported he was struggling with tax issues, according to the Arizona Republic. The dispatcher is heard assuring him that help was on the way.
They were found dead more than two days later.