Oct. 24, 2007 -- The 911 operators who took a frantic call from an 8-year-old boy concerned about his mother's driving are now calling him a "hero."
Operators Laura Irish and Lisa Dobbs both took 911 calls from the boy, who was riding in the car with his 5-year-old sister. The boy said his mother, 33-year-old Paulette Spears, was driving erratically and "not acting normal."
Thanks to the persistence of the boy, who called 911 twice, the operators were able to help police track the car to a fire station near Vancouver, Wash., where Spears was arrested Saturday.
"He's amazing. He's very articulate for an 8-year-old to say some of the words and the descriptions he used, and very brave to keep calling back," Irish said. "I would say he's a hero to his sister and to anybody else that could have been injured."
Officials say Spears pulled into a fire station, claiming to have a medical problem, but they say she smelled of alcohol. She allegedly refused a Breathalyzer but admitted to having "some beers."
Spears pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence, assault and reckless endangerment. If convicted, she could face up to a year in jail. Records show she has at least one conviction for drunken driving, according to The Associated Press.
While the case is pending, she is not allowed any contact with her children who have been placed in the custody of an aunt.
Mother Reportedly Bit Boy's Hand
Irish said that she thought Spears might have been having a medical problem, until the boy said, "I don't know what's going on with her. She had some drinks at a restaurant and I think those are affecting her. I don't think she knows what's going on."
"It was scary. I was really worried that something was going to happen and it wasn't going to end well," Dobbs said.
The operators complimented the boy's remarkable composure and his determination in calling back.
"She is yelling at me telling me to give you the … to give her the phone," the boy said on the call.
He handed the phone to his mother, who seemed to hang up. A police official told the AP that at one point Spears apparently bit the boy's hand to get the telephone away from him.
When he called back, Dobbs asked what kind of car they were driving in, and the boy responded they were in a silver-gray Ultima.
"When I was asking him these questions, I was wondering if he was going to be able to give me the information that I was hoping he could, and I was surprised at what he could give," Dobbs said.
The phone call was again cut off. The operators tried to call him back, but this time Spears picked up the phone.
"I told her it was 911 and I asked if I could talk to her son," Irish said. "She just told me don't worry about it, and she was slurring her words and she just hung up the phone."
Through the operators and Global Positioning System technology, police arrived at the firehouse minutes after Spears.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.