ST. GEORGE — A man staying in a St. George motel was arrested Friday morning after calling 911 no less than five times in two hours requesting emergency services for a wide variety of reasons, including a ride to California.
Just before 9 a.m., officers were dispatched to a citizen assist report at Motel 6 located at 205 N. 1000 East, according to a probable cause statement filed by the St. George Police Department in support of the arrest.
Upon arrival, officers met with the reporting person, identified as 57-year-old Joseph Mitchell Ursich, the arresting officer wrote in the sworn statement, adding:
(Ursich) reported that he wanted to be arrested and transported to California.
During the five 911 phone calls placed between 9:34 a.m. and 10:37 a.m., the report states Ursich called 911 dispatchers racial slurs and reported that he was lost and needed help, that the water at his motel was contaminated and that he needed an ambulance because he was afraid of being too hot.
“(Ursich) then called to report an ambulance crew was there to burn him alive,” the officer stated.
When police arrived at the hotel after the fifth call, Ursich could be heard in his room screaming before coming out and telling officers that “everything was OK,” according to the statement.
“There was no indication that ambulance personnel were on scene or that someone was attempting to burn him,” the officer reported.
Ursich was placed under arrest for 911 abuse – falsely reporting a crime – and transported to the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
St. George Police Officer Lona Trombley said Thursday when people misuse the 911 system, the unnecessary calls may place a strain on dispatchers and place callers who have an actual emergency at risk.
“Remember, there are only a certain number of dispatchers working at a given time so, when a person chooses to abuse 911, they are tying up one of those dispatchers and preventing them from answering an actual emergency call. This slows the response time for the emergency, wasting valuable minutes and possibly costing lives,” Trombley said, adding:
To quote our dispatch motto: Dispatchers save seconds, seconds save lives.
Friday wasn’t the first time law enforcement has dealt with Ursich misusing the 911 system.
According to a report by the Daily Breeze, California court records showed Ursich was convicted in June 2011 of making a false bomb report, and that his record includes arrests or convictions for driving under the influence, reckless driving, theft, indecent exposure, lewd conduct and vandalism.
Ursich was arrested in October 2011 after he led police on a car chase through city streets in San Pedro, according to the Daily Breeze.
Ursich was at the center of another chaotic scene in September 2016.
KTLA 5 News reported that Ursich was the driver of a suspected stolen-vehicle during a high-speed police pursuit and eventual standoff with officers on an overpass in San Bernardino.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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