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Thu May 29, 2014, 09:38 PM

Emergency dispatcher suspended over conversation on Angelou’s 911 call

A Winston -Salem /Forsyth County emergency dispatcher has been suspended with pay over comments he made that were picked up in a 911 recording connected to Maya Angelou’s death.

Angelou, 86, famed poet, actress and activist, died early Wednesday morning at her home in Winston-Salem after a long illness.

In the county’s recording of the 911 call made by Angelou’s caretaker, an emergency dispatcher can be heard in the background discussing an interview Oprah Winfrey did last fall with the BBC that generated some controversy.

Winfrey and Angelou were close friends.

“These comments are unacceptable and we have opened an internal investigation to look into the circumstances surrounding this event,” Forsyth County EMS Director Dan Ozimek said in a statement.

Ozimek said the telecommunicator, John Ruckh, has been suspended with pay pending the investigation. Ruckh has worked for Forsyth County EMS for 24 years.

Ozimek said he discovered Ruckh’s conversation when reviewing the tape on Wednesday. Ruckh was not the primary dispatcher on the call but was in the same room.

The conversation is a bit garbled on the 911 recording and takes up less than a minute of the 7-minute call, but Ruckh appears to be saying that “Oprah has fallen out of grace” with a lot of people and asks someone if they have heard her recent rant. He says she is upset because people are not supportive of President Barack Obama and, apparently paraphrasing one of her statements, says that racism is alive because so many white people have been raised in the era of hating black people.

More, and the audio of the conversation here:


my comment:

if you read all of it, and if you listen, you will see this is not in my opinion a gravid problem with a Southern, local, dispatcher. I think it will be resolved. To me he seems well disposed toward Ms. Angelou, and understanding of the gravity of the situation with this famous and special citizen of our town.

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