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Chatham authorities credit new call system with arrest

It was the first use of the CodeRED reverse 911 system, and it worked to find a suspect in Thursday's robbery, wreck and chase.

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PITTSBORO, N.C. — The Chatham County Sheriff's Office credits the use of a reverse 911 system in helping to capture a fugitive. One resident, who didn't get the call, is not so sure.

As three men fled the scene of a Siler City robbery Thursday afternoon, sheriff's deputies gave chase. The SUV being driven by the suspects collided with a truck near Dewitt Smith Road and the Rocky River bridge

One of the passengers in the vehicle was killed in the wreck. Another, Socorro Hernandez, was wounded, and immediately was arrested. The third, Faustino Waldestran, made a run for it, sparking the manhunt that lasted much of the afternoon and wound through Pittsboro.

While they searched for Waldestran, authorities called emergency management to issue CodeRed. The CodeRED system gives county officials the ability to deliver pre-recorded emergency telephone messages to targeted areas or the entire county at a rate of up to 60,000 calls per hour.

It was the first use of the system, and it worked. After getting the call, a woman called 911 and reported a man matching Waldestran's description had asked her for a ride.

“The gentleman did not want us to call the cops. He said that he had flipped his truck three or four times,” she told 911 dispatchers.

The caller told dispatchers that her neighbor had given the man a ride to to Pittsboro.

Police found Waldestran there and he was arrested. Webster credited CodeRED with the arrest. Without it, he said, "There's a chance we would have missed him and he'd still be out."

The system didn't work for Rochelle Downing. Her phone never rang.

"Some of our neighbors got calls from sheriff's deputies, to lock their doors, but we didn't get a call like that," she said.

Sheriff Webster said Downing lives outside the perimeter set by authorities. When they requested the calls, they estimated how far the suspect might travel. Webster said when Waldestran ran from the crash, deputies didn't think he could get as far as Downing's house.

Authorities did not anticipate that Waldestran would get a ride.

Even though Downing wishes her phone rang, she understands that without the calls, Waldestran wouldn't be in jail.