Premature baby dies after mother's 911 calls go unanswered

OMAHA, Neb. — A mother in Nebraska who lost her newborn daughter is left to wonder whether or not her life could have been saved. 

On July 5, Joanna Coddington gave birth to a baby girl in her home in Omaha. The baby came three months early. Coddington says she called 911 three times — all of which were left unanswered. 

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When she failed to reach an operator for the third time, she called her mother on her cell phone. No answer. With quick thinking, she Googled her mother's work number.

"My mom answered and I told her that I gave birth to the baby and she wasn't breathing," Coddington told KETV.

Her mother told her to call 911. To which she replied, "I'm calling but I keep getting a busy signal," Theresa Kerby, Coddington's mother, recalled to KETV.

Kerby raced home, calling 911 twice on the way from her cell phone. She says she too got busy signals. 

When she got home she took Coddington and the newborn baby to the closest emergency room, but tragically it was too late. 

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“Nobody knows what the possibilities are if 911 could have came," Kerby said. "But the end result is the same and that's that Baby Angel isn't with us."

The county's 911 director Dave Sleeter said that day they received an overwhelming amount of calls to dispatchers, primarily people reporting firework complaints. 

“The next day, I learned it was mostly fireworks calls. Non-emergencies. That just infuriated me, because real emergencies, of life and death, were not able to get through. All because someone’s sleep was inconvenienced,” Kerby said.

The 911 center says that they are running a "traffic study" to see if any improvements can be made at their center. 

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