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S.C. Officials Say Outage Left Them Without Cell Service



Chesterfield County Sheriff Sam Parker counted 41 missed calls when his cellphone came back to life on Monday. It had been useless for three days.

“At least a few of those calls were critical," Parker said. “This can be a major problem."

Firefighters, EMTs, sheriff's deputies and other county employees told Eyewitness News they lost service from Verizon Wireless for as long as four days. The outage also affected citizens using that carrier.

Chesterfield firefighter John Hill heard everyone talking about it over emergency radio.

"I heard, ‘No service, call dropped, try me again,’ just constant over several days," Hill said. “I noticed that I couldn't communicate on my own cell phone, too."

The Chesterfield Fire Department pays firefighters per call and is not staffed 24/7. That's why they depend on cell phones to get critical information to volunteers who may be beyond the range of radios.

Eyewitness News contacted Verizon Wireless on Tuesday about the complaints. Spokeswoman Karen Schulz said there was a lightning strike at the Chesterfield tower this weekend and crews were repairing it at that time.

She said that may have had an impact on service, but there were no reported widespread outages.

Schulz also said Verizon did not receive any calls from Chesterfield County first responders. She said such complaints from emergency officials are expedited because they are considered a higher priority.

However, Parker said his dispatchers did call Verizon and were told the company was working on the problem and would have it repaired.

“This is not our first time with this. It's happened several times in the last few months," Parker said.

As of late Tuesday, it's not clear if there is a bigger problem and how it will be addressed.

County officials planned to stay in touch with Verizon, and the wireless carrier told Eyewitness News it will continue working with officials in Chesterfield if there are more problems reported.


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