Washington state wants $11.5M fine for 911 outage

More than 5,600 emergency calls failed during the April 2014 outage, including calls about domestic violence and heart attacks


Associated Press

SEATTLE — Washington state's attorney general says he wants a telecommunications company to pay the maximum fine — $11.5 million — for an outage that left the state without 911 service for six hours.

State officials say Louisiana-based CenturyLink was slow to recognize the problem, which came to light after 911 operators became concerned about an unusually low number of calls.

More than 5,600 emergency calls failed during the April 2014 outage, including calls about domestic violence and heart attacks. A mother in Everett armed herself with a kitchen knife after making 37 unsuccessful 911 calls to report an intruder.

A coding error caused the outage. The software's backup measure to reroute calls also failed.

Under a proposed settlement, CenturyLink would pay $2.9 million. Attorney General Bob Ferguson says the proposal is too lenient and is asking the state Utilities and Transportation Commission to reject the deal at a hearing next week.

A CenturyLink spokesman called Ferguson's recommendation overly punitive.

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