DIXON — Two 911 phone calls made the night of Nov. 12 regarding a man — alive and waving his arms — on the side of the Interstate 88, just west of mile marker 51.5 were released to Sauk Valley Media on Monday.
The first call was placed at 8:24 p.m., almost 12 hours before the body of Lee E. Catlin, 65, of Bettendorf, was found near the Hoyle Road overpass on Interstate 88.
Ray Specht, 50, was driving his semi east, scanning the highway for deer when Catlin's waving hands caught his eye.
911 Dispatch: Lee County 911 where's your emergency?
Specht: "There's a guy laying alongside Interstate 88 about the 51.5 mile marker. Right by the overpass he's waving his arms back and forth."
He's laying down though?
"Yeah he was laying down on the ground waving his arms"
OK hang on just a second let me give you the proper authority, OK?
I'm gonna go ahead and talk first. Is it eastbound or westbound?
"Uh he's on the eastbound side."
Eastbound? OK just a second.
Sir i'm going to go ahead and talk to them first
ISP Dispatcher: State Police District 15
911: Hi, this is Deb from Lee County. I have a caller on the line. He's on 88 eastbound side at 51.5. He advised that there was a male subject laying along the road and that he was waving his hands. So I'll let you talk to him, and you can just let me know if you want an ambulance dispatched, OK?
911: Thank you. Sir, go ahead.
Man: "I'm in a semi, and I see with my headlights — he's laying alongside right by that overpass about the 51.5 mile marker on the eastbound side. He had a blue coat on, a checkered shirt, and it looked like either blue jeans or black pants, I don't know which. Laying along the side of the road and he's got his arms up; he's kind of laying half on the grass and half on the shoulder. I don't know what his problem is; I didn't stop. There's too many weird things going on now a days."
ISP: OK is that the right shoulder or the left shoulder?
ISP: Alright did you see a vehicle in sight?
"No I did not."
ISP: No vehicle in sight. Alright what is your name sir?
[Editor's note: Sauk Valley Media cut the caller's contact information from the tapes embedded in this story, and in this printed transcript to protect his privacy.]
ISP: Alright sir. We're going to get someone over there. Mile marker 51.5 eastbound, I-88 on the right shoulder. We'll get some help over there. Alright, dispatch?
ISP: If anything else is needed, we'll give you a call as soon as possible.
911: Okay sounds good thank you. Bye bye.
"I didn't stop."
911: No problem sir, they're going to send a trooper to check on it OK?
"Alright thank you"
911: Thank you sir. Bye bye.
"The reason I didn't stop was because there was no car," Specht said in an interview Monday night. "And I was driving a semi... by the time I would've stopped, it would've been a ways down the road."
The next morning, Specht says he had two state detectives at his door.
"They were here about 10 o'clock in the morning and they kept saying, 'You didn't feel a bump? You didn't notice a bump?'" Specht said. "And I'm like, 'No, I didn't hit the guy, he was laying alongside the road; that's how i noticed him.' I got a 3-second glimpse of him. He was laying on his back on his side partly on the grass, partly on the pavement.
"They called my work, they checked my phone, they went down to Davenport, Iowa and inspected my truck from front to back," he said.
"I thought 'God, surely they'd have been out there in time to save him. and they didn't find him until the next morning, really?'" he said.
Another call was made 16 minutes later. This call was shorter — lasting only 44 seconds, as opposed to the first call's 2 minutes and 44 seconds.
It was made by 52-year-old Bob Brouch.
He and his wife were driving back home to Aurora from the Quad Cities when they saw Catlin in their headlights.
"All of a sudden, there's this person lying on the side of the road waving his arms, and I'm shocked, startled," Brouch said in a previous interview with Sauk Valley Media. "I pull over, and I had to back up just maybe 10 yards so I could read a mile marker."
911 Dispatch: Lee County 911 where's your emergency?
Brouch: "Um on 88 east at mile mark 51.5."
"There is a man lying on the shoulder waving his arms. No car around."
We've already got that call sir, we've got somebody en route.
"It's immediately west of the 51.5 mile sign."
OK that's what the other people said, too.
"OK, thank you."
On Monday, State Police Capt. Jim Winters was the only official able to be reached for comment. "
"I know that a trooper checked the area and the call was unfounded," he said.
When asked whether there was any investigation into what happened that night that a state trooper couldn't find Catlin after two highly specific 911 calls were made, or whether any disciplinary action would be taken, Winters said that he couldn't comment and directed Sauk Valley Media to contact Region 15 — the region from which, Winters said, the trooper was dispatched. Winters did say that, on his department's end, the investigation into Catlin's death is almost complete, and that they are mostly just waiting on the final reports from the coroner.
After contacting Region 15, Sauk Valley Media was asked to get in touch with an ISP media spokesperson, none of whom were able to be reached.
"I'm surprised they didn't get more than two 911 calls," Specht said. "The way I look at it, somebody didn't do their job."
According to his obituary, Catlin taught for more than 35 years at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School in Moline.