Woman Who Called Barnstable Police From Barnstaple, England Surprised Call Went Viral

BOSTON (CBS) — The woman who mistakenly called Barnstable, Massachusetts Police from Barnstaple, England last week says she can’t believe how quickly her hilarious call has spread across the internet.

Theresa Saunders says she’s still not sure how her call went viral.

“It was one of those phone calls you make and you put the phone down and you think, oh, well that was a bit strange,” she told WBZ-TV in a Skype interview Wednesday. “But you never expect it to come back somehow.”

It all started last Thursday when she witnessed a dangerous road accident and went to a friend’s house to report it. She said the mix-up was the fault of her phone’s “digital assistant,” Cortana, which must have heard “Barnstable” instead of “Barnstaple.”

“She went on my mobile phone and used an app to find Barnstaple Police Station, and it came up on the phone,” explained Saunders. “And she said, well it’s there, just tap on it and phone it, so I did. And I ended up speaking to this nice gentleman in totally the wrong place.”

That nice gentleman was Officer Mark McWilliams in Barnstable, Massachusetts, the Cape Cod town that is twinned with it’s namesake in England.

The Barnstable Police dispatcher and a 16-year veteran patrolman was utterly confused by the towns Saunders mentioned during the call.

“He kept saying ‘Muddiford? Where’s Muddiford?’ He didn’t have a clue what I was talking about,” said Saunders. “And I was suddenly thinking, this isn’t right. It was quite far into the conversation, actually.”

When the two finally figured out what had happened, McWilliams joked, “Our response time is gonna be about six hours.”

Since then, she’s been featured on TV news and websites across the world. She thinks the attention is great, and that it’s changing her life.

“I’m all over Facebook, my children think it’s great,” Saunders said. “They say, ‘It’s just the sort of thing you would have done, mum.’ It’s quite nice actually, some of the responses.”

“If somebody can reach out and touch somebody across the water, and touch a lot of other people just because of an accident, I think it’s great,” she added. “It’s going to change my life, that’s for sure.”

She was able to meet McWilliams face-to-face Tuesday via Skype, thanks to the BBC. She praised police officers, who she admires for the work they do.

“I have spoken to him and asked him, ‘Well it’s gone six hours, where are you?'” Saunders joked. “I think, like I said to him, you do such a good job where you are, and what you do every day, I think they’re amazing really, really brave people. So to actually have met one and talked to one is really good for me to be honest.”

She never did hear back from Barnstaple, England Police about the accident she reported–but she said she’d love to visit Cape Cod, and plans on calling the right department next time she wants to contact the authorities.

“I think I’m going to make sure I have the police number on my phone, so I don’t make this mistake again,” she said.


One Comment

  1. Joe Boucher says:

    Number 1 mistake, using Cortana.

  2. Sy Clops says:

    This is what passes for news nowadays? Listening to the call, I don’t see that the Barnstable (MA) dispatcher was particularly helpful.

  3. sceesic says:

    Come on Porkclops. Have a sense of humor.

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