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625 pages, Kindle Edition
First published April 30, 2019
Near the end of their telephone call, Melissa [Doi] spelled out her mother’s name and asked if they could arrange a three-way connection. [Dispatcher] Vanessa Barnes said that wasn’t possible but promised to call Melissa’s mother. Melissa gasped for air, sensing that time was running out. She had one more request for the 9-1-1 dispatcher, a message for her mother: “Tell her,” Melissa said, halting between words, “I love her with all my heart and soul, and that she was the best mother a person could ever have.”
Melissa Doi stopped talking, but Vanessa Barnes heard breathing. It seemed as though Melissa and her companions might have passed out from smoke inhalation. Just as she promised, the dispatcher stayed on the line. She called Melissa’s name more than sixty times. As minutes passed, Vanessa Barnes stopped being an anonymous police dispatcher and became motherly. “Ma’m” and “Melissa” gave way to “dear.” Soon Vanessa Barnes began calling her “baby.”
Dispatcher Barnes: “Please don’t give up, Melissa…Oh, my God. Melissa? Melissa? Melissa? Please don’t give up, Melissa…Hold on, baby, hold on. You’re going to be fine, baby, can you hear me? You’re going to be fine, you’re going to be fine…”