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Grant Solomon case: Aaron's 911 call analysed
What's his priority?
As promised, here’s a look at the 911 call made by Aaron Solomon about his son, Grant, being trapped under his truck.
If you don’t know the story, start here.
The 911 call is available to listen to here:
Certain parts of the call have cross talk. I’ve separated that out here to make the conversation clearer.
Operator: where's your emergency
Aaron (cross talk): I’m trying
Aaron: It .. is.. 13-57 South Water Street. It's off 109 please hurry
Op: You said 57
Aaron: (unclear) 13-57
Aaron directly answers the question “where’s your emergency” with the location and a plea for urgency. This is mostly reassuring. Direct answers are good, they show no storytelling or other priority in the callers mind.
Op: what’s going on
Aaron: Um… my… my son's truck backed over him and h-he’s… it's rolled over him and drag him into the ditch and it’s on top of it him… (pause) he's trapped under the truck and I… I… , yeah he.. are you… somehow it drug him underneath it.
This isn’t so good. I’d have been more reassured to hear the issue first and the explanation afterwards. That would have built on the impression from the first answer that Aaron was seeking urgent help for a specific problem.
It’s notable that he doesn’t mention any urgency here or what kind of help he needs.
Instead, Aaron sets the scene first, that is his priority.
Here, Aaron is clear on what happened in the most part. The truck backed over his son, rolled over him, dragged him into the ditch and is stuck on top of him. His son is trapped. This is all said with certainty.
However, my interest goes to why he says twice that the truck went over him. Once it “backed over him” and second it “rolled over him”.
He then says more, which is repeats part of the set-up but is more vague. “Somehow” it dragged him underneath.
In the first description, he says the truck “backed over him”. There’s agency there, it was an action of the truck. Later he says the truck “rolled over him” which has less agency.
If someone controlling a truck reverses it over a parking lot we would say “he backed the truck over the parking lot” or “the truck backed over the parking lot”.
If there was no control over the truck, say it had no brakes on, we would say the truck rolled over the parking lot.
I’m curious as to why Aaron says both.
Aaron’s tense use is consistent here. Past events are in past tense, “backed over him”. The current situation is in present tense, “he’s trapped”.
Aaron: (To someone else?) Yes, my son is under it. I'm trying to- No! I'm trying to call 911
Regularly in this call, Aaron sounds like he is talking to others rather than the 911 operator. In this aside, it’s notable that he says that he is “trying” to call 911 when in fact he is succeeding in speaking to 911.
We all misspeak at times. This could be one such case, but when analysing words we note the discrepancies as they may be relevant later.
Op: Okay, what’s your name?
Aaron: Oh my god… My name is Aaron Solomon.
Op: And you say..
Aaron: oh my gosh.
Op: ..1357 South Water Avenue, right?
Once again, Aaron directly answers the questions in a straightforward manner. This shows he’s likely being honest (easy to do when asked your name!) and has no desire at this moment to deceive or misdirect attention.
Op: How old is the male?
Aaron: He’s 18…he just turned 18 a couple weeks- about a month ago. That’s my son. Oh my god. Oh my god. This is not good.
This is less direct. He is asked the age of the male, and he replies with all that is needed “he’s 18”. He then provides information he wasn’t asked for which could be important to him, namely when his son turned 18.
It could be this is the shock of the situation, or there could be another reason the recency of his son turning 18 is high in his mind.
I’ve seen a few remarks about the delivery of the “oh my god” parts of this call seeming fake or hammy. I don’t look at delivery in my analysis, but I do note phrases such as “this is not good” are straightforward and direct, indicting honesty.
Learn more about decoding statements:
Op: Is he awake and talking to you?
Aaron: Please hurry. I don't know. I don't think so. He's not, he's not alert right now. He's out. And he's trapped. I got three guys here. And he's trapped under the truck. Oh my gosh.
The “please hurry” happens over the question from the operator. Aaron again directly answers the question asked of him, but he blurts out three different responses.
He’s asked is he awake and talking to you?
I don’t know – definite in that he does not know whether his son is awake and talking to him
I don’t think so – now he’s saying he doesn’t know for sure but seems fairly certain he’s not awake and talking
He’s not, he’s not alert right now, he’s out – now certain that his son is not awake and talking. And he stated it twice, he’s not alert and he’s out.
Within 16 words, Aaron has gone from being certain he doesn’t know the answer to the question, to being certain he does know the answer to the question, so certain he states it twice.
The repetition of “trapped” shows it is another priority concern for him.
“I got three guys here” is interesting. It is not relevant to the question he is being asked, he doesn’t state anything else about the three guys apart from they are here.
“I got” shows he feels ownership of the guys. He doesn’t state merely that they are present, eg “there are three guys here”. “I got” is more expected to be used when there is some ownership, eg “I got three of my guys working on it”, “I got three guys following me”.
Op: I understand sir. Stay on the phone with me while we get somebody out there. What's your name?
Aaron: Aaron Solomon.
Op: And what kind of vehicle is it?
Aaron: It's a Toyota Tacoma.. Tacoma, it’s a-a vehicle has-he's underneath the vehicle.
More direct and straightforward answering of easy factual questions.
Once more, he repeats that his son is underneath the vehicle. It’s obviously a priory concern of his.
Op: Okay. What colour is it?
Aaron: It's a white truck. That's my son… it’s somehow backed up.
(aside again)Yeah. Yeah, I'm on one I'm on with 911 right now. Oh my god. Oh my god.
Oh my god.
Aaron gives another straightforward answer, then appears to talk to someone else again.
I note he’s again stating vaguely what happened with “somehow” and uses “backed up” to describe the truck movement once more.
Op: Was your son working on it?
Aaron: No, no, he was just getting out of it. It's the hil- it’s the.. we're on an incline and I guess he didn't have it in park or something or it wasn't engaged or… Oh my gosh. Oh my god. I can't believe…
Here is the word “just”. It is often used in deception to hide events or issues. We use just to focus attention on one item, even though others may be present.
Here Aaron is very definite about the events, his son was getting out of the car when the truck rolling happened. This contradicts his later statement.
And now he’s offering up theories as to what happened. The incline, Grant not having the vehicle in park. Or “something”.
This is interesting because he was asked what his son was doing when the car rolled over him. Not why it rolled. Aaron is keen to repeat this part of events.
When we’re being deceptive, we may repeat the deceptive words frequently. This is because we think words are more believable if we repeat them, and it’s really important to us that the deceptive words are heard.
In this case, Aaron isn’t repeating what happened but that he doesn’t know how events occurred, that is, he doesn’t know why the truck ran over his son.
Op: (sounds like) he’s not responding?
Aaron: No, no.
Op: And he's still…
Aaron: no, no.
Op: I'm just asking you questions so we can get to him. Okay? Can you check and see if he’s breathing?
Aaron: I-I.. somebody’s telling me he-he-he's coming to
Op: Okay. He’s is waking up? Try to keep him still.
Aaron: Well he can’t - yeah he can’t move, I don't think he can move. I-I don't know.
This is another example of Aaron changing his certainty in a short amount of time
He can’t move – definite and certainly
I don’t think he can move – less definite and certain
I don’t know – not at all definite or certain
Both times he has done this, it has been about the state of his son. Is he covering all bases? Is he trying to get across that he is not accurately aware of his son’s condition?
Or is he in deception mode and not sure what is the “correct” statement to make that matches his story?
I note also that the operator asked if Grant was breathing and Aaron does not answer to this. Maybe he doesn’t want to or maybe it’s getting confusing for him.
There or not?
Aaron: No he can't move. He's trapped.
Op: Okay, we got somebody in route now. When he wakes up he may be scared. Can somebody talk to him?
Aaron: Yeah, somebody talk to him, there’s…. shit…. th-he-there’s blood (aside) is he facing up or down?
He’s facing up, he said we may aspirate(?) we need to hurry
Oh my god.
Op: So does he have blood coming out of his mouth?
Aaron: Yeah he, yeah there's blood coming up. Yeah somehow it drug him down, I think. I don't know whether it wasn't in park or what or if it didn't engage the brake. Or it drug him underneath somehow.
They said he's facing up.
This is a confused part of the call, where Aaron appears to be talking to the operator and someone at the scene.
There is a lack of consistency here. In some parts, Aaron appears to be relaying information from someone else “is he facing up or down? He’s facing up” and “they said he’s facing up”.
In other parts, Aaron conveys the information more directly, “there’s blood coming up”.
This inconsistency concerns me. In most parts of the call, Aaron appears to be speaking with direct knowledge of his son’s condition. In others, he appears to be getting his information second hand.
One thing Aaron seems certain of is that his son is trapped. He mentions it once more in this call and always directly.
I hope you noticed that, once more, Aaron tells the operator that he doesn’t know how the truck went over Grant. This is a worry as he is dealing with the condition of his son but feels a need to repeat this without being prompted to do so.
Aaron: but he's bleeding from his mouth. So… Grant, turn your face to the side if you can … barely … be careful,
Op: Don’t move him okay.
Aaron: We can’t move him. We can’t-We can't move him.
Again here, Aaron appears to be talking directly to Grant. While Aaron might have moved since he had to ask which way Grant was facing, it is inconsistent with his other statements.
Aaron: Oh god
Op: They're there. I'm gonna let you go. Okay?
There are some good studies on words and phrases which can denote a genuine 911 call versus a fake one or one where an incident is being reported deceptively.
One of those markers is when the caller is overly polite and thankful to the operator and the emergency services. This is not present in this call.
Conclusion and observations
There is a lot of honesty in this call. Aaron is very direct when asked easy and factual questions. He’s also very straightforward about his son being trapped under the truck, he repeats that a few times.
Aaron does seem to be concerned about getting help quickly and to the correct location.
However, there are concerns. The number one concern is how often he repeats that he doesn’t know how the truck rolled over Grant. It’s a massive priority in his mind to ensure that he says, and it’s recorded, that he doesn’t know.
While he is certain of the situation of his son, “he’s trapped”, Aaron is vague on the condition of his son. At times, he says he doesn’t know the condition, at other times he’s certain that he is unconscious.
I wasn’t there, I don’t know for certain what happened. However, from his statements on this call, my opinion is that Aaron knows how the truck came to trap Grant and that he was in a critical condition at the time of the call.
As I said in my first post looking at this case, it is getting a lot of traction at the moment. There are several good podcasts looking at the story beyond the statements I’ve looked at here and I urge you to check them out.
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