Following the accident at Auburn and Piedmont avenues in Atlanta , Mike Alsip
, an investigator with the Fulton County Medical Examiner's office , was assigned to Traci Finger's case.He
dead at 4 : 30 p.m..
Just before 9 p.m. , Alsip
, who had gotten Traci's family information from a police officer , called the Savannah Police Department
asked that an officer go to the Fingers' home on Jones Street and have them call him in Atlanta.
Normally , Alsip makes death notifications in person , but in out-of-town cases , he
calls local police and asks that they stand by while the family calls the medical examiner's office.
There are two reasons his
office follows that procedure , Alsip
Knowing the officers out there haven't been given the sensitivity training our investigators have , and we've had elderly people that have had a heart attack right there on the phone..By having the officer there , emergency help is ready if anything happens , Alsip said
But what followed were missteps that raised questions of judgment and accuracy at the Savannah Police Department
talked to someone at SPD
and gave them the Fingers' address.
Between the call-taker and the dispatcher who passed the information on to the officer , the address erroneously changed from 11 West Jones St. to 11 West Jones Lane.
When the responding officer tried to find the house , he
knocked on doors in the area where 11 West Jones Lane should have been but couldn't find that number.
I'm not sure which one is 11 , he
said on the dispatch recording.None of these doors are marked..
The officer again asked the dispatcher if he
had the right address , and she
did.According to the recording , she
never tried to verify the address , and finally asked the officer to leave a note on the door.
According to the dispatch tape , the note said , Contact the medical examiner's office in Fulton County , Mike Alsip , and then listed the phone number.
The Fingers never got a note , though.
They had learned of Traci Finger's death after Alsip
called Finger's answering service.His
daughter's name is Tracy , and I thought they were telling me about their daughter , and I wondered why they were acting like they did , Finger said.
In the case with the death notification to the Fingers , Branson believes the mistake happened when the person who took the initial phone call from Alsip
keyed in the address.
The night of the accident , SPD
that any future death notifications would have to be sent through the police department on a teletype.
Alsip argues that teletypes don't allow the sense of urgency or sensitivity a person can give.
But SPD spokesman Bucky Burnsed said that's the best way to send accurate information.
If they have something written down to look at , the dispatchers can do their jobs better , he