Any comments on the contents of this article that you think are incorrect, I would appreciate. Special Thanks to Pat Roberson for making me a copy.
The Oregonian, May 4, 1976
Woman Dies On Telephone as Radio Station Has Call Traced
By John Guernsey
A woman died while talking on the telephone during a radio talk show Monday, triggering a real-life radio drama at station KKEY.
The moderator of the Portland program, Laura Hall, was talking at about 11:20 a.m. with a woman later identified as Ruby Nelson, 62. Suddenly there was a gasp on the caller’s end of the line, a banging noise as if the phone had fallen and excited barks of a dog.
Turning the program over to another announcer, Ms Hall kept the line open to the caller and had station personnel call police and the telephone company. She wanted an immediate trace on the caller’s number, so help could be sent to the woman’s address.
Suspense reigned at the radio station for nearly 2 1/2 hours after the first emergency call. Off the air, Ms Hall continued calling into the telephone, trying to rouse the woman and learn her address. But she heard only the dog barking.
About 1:40 p.m., the number trace had been completed and Ms. Hall learned the address. She got there in time to see police break open the front door at 8206 S.W. 10th Ave.
Mrs. Nelson was dead on the floor. Oxygen and other artificial respiration failed to revive her.
A deputy Multnomah County coroner said Mrs. Nelson apparently died almost instantly from a massive heart seizure.
Announcer Jack Hurd said he contacted “some woman” at the phone company and tried to explain the urgency of the problem. “But she just told me it wasn’t her department and hung up,” he said.
KKEY account executive Paul Stevens said that at one point a phone company official reported that the trace had been made and the address was known. “I asked him for the information, but he said he couldn’t give it to me,” Stevens said. “I asked him what he was going to do with it and he hung up without another word.”
Mike Jordan, public information spokesman for Pacific Northwest Bell, said the tracing operation began immediately after 11:20 a.m. and was completed by 1:40 p.m. He said a trace normally takes about that length of time because of the many line-checking procedures which have to be gone through.
He said telephone companies cannot make number traces within a matter of minutes, as is often shown on television shows.
Tom Potter, press information officer at the Portland Police Bureau, said police records indicate that the trace was completed at 12:54 p.m., but the address furnished by the phone company was 8406 S.W. 10th Ave. instead of the correct address, 8206 S.W. 10th Ave.
He said the police investigated, informed the phone company that it was the wrong address and phone officials called back with the correct address at 1:36 p.m.
Mrs. Nelson was the wife of Zenus Nelson, manager of the Oregon Typewriter and Recorder Co.