911 operator talks about being on the other side of the line during road rage incident

- "He's got his lights off. He's got his lights off. He smashed into the back of my car twice. He's got his lights off."

Moments of terror for a valley woman as a man followed her and rammed his vehicle into the back of her car over and over again as she drove down a road.

The ordeal ended with the suspect crashing into another car and police cruiser before being hauled off to jail.

A few things caught our attention when we first heard the 911 call a week ago. Fatima Tsouli was the victim in that crash and she had some harsh words for the 911 operator.

Well, we talked with that operator in Scottsdale. She was smiling and warm and right in the middle of her typical 14-hour day. She walked us through what it was like on her end of the call.

Operator: Scottsdale 911.. what is the address of your emergency?

Caller: Ahh.. I don't know. I don't know where I am at.. a guy is hitting into the back of me.. trying to kill me on the road.

The scary moments of a road rage incident nearly two weeks ago here in the valley -- and Kathy Steinke was doing her best at the Scottsdale dispatch center to keep her cool.

"All that I could hear was screaming, the moment I picked it up, at least that's how it plays back in my head now. I felt like I was trying my hardest to get control and figure out where she was and get her help and sometimes I felt like I was failing on it," said Steinke.

"It reminded me of that situation and how I felt, and how horrible that 911 dispatcher was. She had absolutely no empathy, she was screaming over me," said Tsouli.

Tsouli wasn't shy in criticizing Steinke when she spoke with FOX 10 a week ago, and that's something that the long-time police veteran understands.

"I wish all of us could have been a little calmer and gotten help to her quicker. And her being able to listen and follow some of the direction," said Steinke.

A calm demeanor in a stressful situation can often be presented as cold. So how do you balance being cold and being calm when you're on the other end of a frightening call?

"It's a really fine line and sometimes you catch yourself getting into that colder, sounding like you're being mean and scolding them. And you have to rein yourself back, because I mean we're human and you're trying to give direction and people just aren't following it," said Steinke.

The man charged in that crash reportedly tried to commit suicide the next day and that's something that both Steinke and Tsouli have thought about in the weeks since.



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