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iPhone 14 calls 911 when users ride Kings Island roller coasters

12 calls placed between September 18 & October 9
Mystic Timbers Kings Island.jpg
Posted at 2:28 PM, Oct 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-11 19:26:00-04

MASON, Ohio — Roller coaster rides are setting off a new Apple crash detection feature launched in September that automatically alerts emergency services.

The Warren County Communications Center received 12 calls generated by iPhones while their users were riding a Kings Island coaster between September 18 and October 9 said Melissa Bour, director of Warren County emergency services.

October 1 and October 9 had the highest number of 911 calls placed. Each day the iPhones called 911 five different times throughout the entire day.

The new feature works on the new iPhone 14 and Apple Watches and is intended to detect severe car crashes.

Here are a few examples of what dispatchers heard:

iPhone 14 roller coaster: Phone calls 911 while users ride at Kings Island

“Not sending resources is not an option,” Bour said. “Not here in Warren County.”

Sara White, a 39-year-old dentist, told the Wall Street Journal that her iPhone 14 Pro automatically called 911 when she went on Mystic Timbers at Kings Island. The wooden roller coaster is 109 feet tall with top speeds of 53 mph.

“The owner of this iPhone was in a severe car crash and is not responding to their phone,” an automated voice says in the call to 911, before also providing longitude and latitude coordinates. Screams from others on the ride can be heard in the background of the call.

While the feature is new, accidental 911 calls from Kings Island are not.

Warren County received 4,094 hang-up or silent calls from Kings Island from January 2022 through October 11, according to Bour.

It happened to Anna Albi on a ride a few weeks ago.

“It sent out an emergency notification to all the people I had an emergency contacts in my phone,” she said. “And it sent a note to 911.”

Albi had her phone in her purse, which was strapped behind her back. She isn’t exactly sure what caused it, but thinks the ride might have triggered her emergency call feature.

“I was actually really quite shaken by it because I just felt so bad,” she said.

Warren County Emergency Services set up a text message alert system earlier this year to help. Some callers will now receive a text message after calling 911 where they will receive instructions on how to contact the department if the call was made by mistake.

However, this feature isn’t really meant to help with calls triggered by “crash detection.”

“It's saying that there's a crash that's been detected, so that's a little different than the 911 hang ups or silences,” Bour said. “So we make up a call for a crash with unknown injuries, because we haven't spoken to anyone, and then once that call is made up, it gets dispatched out to the police officer.”

One expert says these kinds of technology bugs are not uncommon.

“It's doing its job to announce that it found the thing it was set to find,” said Jess Kropczynski, an associate professor at the School of Information Technology at the University of Cincinnati. “It’s just that this can often be a false positive.”

Kropczynski recommends turning your phone off before riding a rollercoaster. You could also disable the crash detection feature, but that would also disable the feature during a real emergency.

“I think that avid rollercoaster enthusiasts for the time being might consider turning something like this off,” she said. “But I would not say that the average person needs to worry in that situation.”