911 Tapes in Fatal Crash Released

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By Steven Sandberg

CAVE JUNCTION, Ore. – Emergency dispatchers did not immediately call for a medical response for what turned out to be a fatal car crash in Cave Junction.

Newly-released 911 tapes reveal the initial conversation among Josephine County 911 dispatchers, Oregon State Police dispatchers, and the man who called 911 to report a crash on October 6th.

Steven Michael Rubins was ejected from his car and killed in that single-vehicle rollover crash. Both OSP and Grants Pass Police are reviewing the incident after it took two hours before police and fire crews went to the scene.

According to Jim Smith, who lives on Caves Highway, he heard the crash shortly after midnight on October 6th. He drove to the scene and saw the car crashed and on its wheels on a neighbor’s front yard. According to call records, Smith called 911 at 12:27 a.m.

“It looks like a car wrecked at about Barnes Way,” Smith is heard to say. “I drove up there and hollered out. I didn’t know if there were strange people and they took off, so I didn’t want to look around too much and I drove back to my house.”

The Josephine County 911 dispatcher confirmed the location, and asked if Smith saw anyone near the scene.

“I looked in the car, there wasn’t nobody in the car, and the car was running,” Smith told a dispatcher.

“Let me put you through to Oregon State Police,” the dispatcher said. “Since there was no one around it, I’ll put you through to law enforcement.”

Smith was transferred to an Oregon State Police Trooper, and returned to the scene to describe the crash again. He still did not see anyone in the darkness.

“Like I was telling him, they could have been thrown off anywhere,” Smith told NewsWatch 12.

At 12:36 a.m., OSP called back Josephine County 911 and asked about whether an ambulance or fire truck was being sent.

“Did you guys have medical and fire en route to that?” An OSP employee asked.

“We do not,” said the 911 dispatcher. “[The caller] said there was no one around.”

“OK,” the OSP employee replied.

“He said there was no one around,” the dispatcher continued. “And he checked in the vehicle and said there was no one in the vehicle, either.”

“Oh, OK,” said the OSP employee. “Because he told us he didn’t see anyone around the vehicle, but he didn’t look closely.”

“Oh, he told me he got out and looked inside the vehicle,” the dispatcher said.

The dispatcher then asked if OSP wanted to call for a medical response.

“It’s up to you, it’s your call,” the dispatcher said. “If you’d like us to send them [medical], we can.”

The OSP employee said she would ask the troopers to find out.

No one was sent to the scene for another two hours.

Shortly after 2 a.m., Pacific Power Employees found Rubins’ body a few yards from the car, and called 911. According to call records, emergency medical crews were called a few minutes later. The Illinois Valley Fire office is just a few miles away on Caves Highway, and the fire chief confirmed crews got on scene shortly before 2:30 a.m.

The State Medical Examiner’s office said Rubins died instantly from head and neck injuries.

Oregon State Police said their internal review is still active, and said they have no further comment.