WHITEWATER – Whitewater resident Gordon Marino walks with his wife, Pam. She’s in a wheelchair because of a recent stroke. Pam was home alone when she experienced the symptoms. But, when she tried to call 911 for help, the phone was dead.
“She had tried to call several times, 911, no dial tone at all,”recalled Marino.”By that time, the delay had been almost two and half tothree hours before somebody had actually got here to find her.”
Marino says if the phones hadn’t failed as they often do, his wife would have reached help in time.
Holding back tears, Marino says, “She was able to drive her car, wash dishes, take care of the kids, do things she can’t do now. I’m very upset over this. We’re in the process of litigation. This has gone too far.”
Neighbors gathered together to share their frustration with Verizon’s landline service.
“I moved here about a year ago. I was out service from November 29th to January 5th, like 37 days,” says Whitewater resident Sandor Najy. He adds the phone outages continued repeatedly as recently as early July.
Whitewater’s phone service comes from a piece of equipment called a Muxbox, located close to the freeway. It’s a Verizon relay system. Residents say it’s been breaking down for years, and they’ve repeatedly seen Verizon workers working on it.
Cell phone coverage is limited here with many dropped calls.
Susan Hiebert says her daughter had a severe allergic reaction from a bee sting at school. Nobody could reach Susan at home.
Hiebert recalls, “Her hand was swollen really, really bad. They were afraid she may go into shock. They wouldn’t let her back on the bus. She was stuck in Banning at Central School. The school tried to call me; no dial tone.”
A Verizon spokesman tells News Channel 3 they “are looking at the problems very closely” and they are sending their engineers to the area soon to fix the phone service.
Stay with News Channel 3 for updates on this developing story.