West Valley City, Utah, emergency dispatcher Kari Bueno once wanted the person clogging up their lines with false 911 calls to get into a lot of trouble.
In less than a week, someone had made more than 4,000 calls to 911. At one point, Bueno was receiving three to four calls a minute — all of them from the same number, which traced back to a disconnected cellphone.
About three weeks ago, West Jordan police finally tracked down the person making those calls, according to KSL TV.
The person making the calls was 30-year-old David VanBibber, who has a mental disability. His family says he functions on the level of an 8-year-old.
David VanBibber had an old cellphone that he used as an iPod to listen to music. The phone was disconnected and unable to make calls. But even disconnected cellphones are still able to call 911, which he was accidentally doing while trying to access his music.
The day the cellphone was taken away, Bueno came up with the idea of raising money among the dispatch center employees to buy an iPod Nano and a $100 iTunes gift certificate for him. On Wednesday, VanBibber and his family were invited to Valley Emergency Communications Center and were presented with the gifts.
The presentation brought tears to the eyes of his father.
"You know, in an environment where the police are so unfairly treated, to see this kind of an outreach that touches my son and touches my family, it's just incredible," he said. "That they would honor my son for his disruption to such an important service, to be here today and to feel this outpouring for my son … is just really touching as a parent. (I'm) just grateful for this."