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Child playing on a disconnected phone causes LCSO manhunt

Posted at 10:01 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 23:06:28-04

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla — The Lee County Sheriff's Office says a child playing with a disconnected phone called 911 and launched a manhunt.

It happened Wednesday afternoon.

Investigators say the Sheriff's Office received a 911 call from a child saying she needed help and couldn't find her dad.

The 911 call taker was able to get the age and name of the child. Investigators say the child also gave a description of a Lehigh Acres house and claimed to be alone in it.

Deputies began going door-to-door in order to find the child.

Sheriff Carmine Marceno, more than 60 units, and members of the command staff all responded to locate the child.

Analysts in Real Time Intelligence Center tried to locate the home.

Investigators say aviation was dispatched to search from the air, and K-9 units tried to establish tracks in an attempt to locate the child.

A female made contact with a deputy a street over from where the 911 call originated. She believed her child was the one they were looking for and explained her daughter had been playing with a disconnected cell phone.

Deputies confirmed the child was never in any danger or left alone.

Retired Police Chief Walter Zalisko, says this can be a common occurrence if parents are not careful.

"It’s almost a common occurrence. Kids see the cell phone and whether they deliberately call 911 or not, it's so ingrained in them in school and everywhere else to call 911 in an emergency. It's a very simple number for them to remember," says Zalisko.

Zalisko says the bigger issue is incidents like this waste police time and resources.

"If they’re expending their enormous amount of resources on that one particular 911 call all the other ones are put on a back burner. It takes away from units being able to patrol the streets because they’re tied up with this one incident,” says Zalisko.

The Sheriff's Office wants to remind parents to educate their children on the severity of calling 911 for fun.