Inside the chaotic response to a 911 call in Texas: ‘Half of the family just disappeared’

Following a 911 call, first responders arrived at a home. No one answered the door, so they left. Inside, an entire family was being poisoned by carbon monoxide.

Listen to the 911 calls uncovered by NBC News, The Texas Tribune and ProPublica

It was 9:08 p.m. when Michael Negussie’s phone rang. Twenty minutes had passed since he called 911 asking for emergency crews to check on his cousins and their two children, fearing that they had fainted from carbon monoxide poisoning in their Houston home during a massive winter storm.

A fire captain at the dispatch center told Negussie that an emergency crew had arrived at the two-story townhouse. But, he said, no one was answering the door.

“It’s one of those things, if they get there and they have to force entry, they’re going to break the door, displace the lock,” the captain said, according to a recording of the 911 call.

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