PRAIRIE CREEK (KFSM) — Authorities say a Bentonville man prompted a large emergency response when he failed to report his wife was safe after initially telling 911 dispatchers that she drove into Beaver Lake.
Christopher Wann, 48, was arrested Thursday (Feb. 1) in connection with communicating a false alarm, a Class C felony.
Wann said he was talking to his wife about 5:21 p.m. Thursday and tracking her on a mobile app when he saw that her car appeared to enter the lake near the Arkansas 12 bridge, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Wann called 911 and reported his wife drove into the lake before disconnecting. Dispatchers tried to call Wann back several times but couldn’t reach him, according to the affidavit.
The Rogers and Beaver Lake fire departments both responded, alongside the Benton County Sheriff’s Office and Arkansas State Police. Crews searched the shoreline and several lake access points but didn’t find a vehicle.
The sheriff’s office pinged Wann’s phone to try and find him, which led deputies to Wann’s mother-in-law’s house.
Deputies said she was uncooperative and wouldn’t provide a number for Wann. She told them “he called in, you should have it,” according to the affidavit.
Deputies were able to track Wann to his home on Southeast Clark Street in Bentonville, where they found Wann and his wife inside.
Wann said he didn’t call police back because his phone fell down into his car’s floorboard, according to the affidavit.
Wann, who said he was near the Arkansas 12 bridge, wasn’t able to answer why he didn’t drive to the scene after noticing his wife leaving the area on the mobile app.
Deputies said Wann “would ramble and it was hard to keep him on task,” but Wann denied being under the influence of any drugs — other than his anxiety medication, which he said he takes twice daily, according to the affidavit.
John Whisenant, chief of Beaver Lake Fire Department, said first responders always assume 911 calls are legitimate.
“Whether it’s a genuine emergency or not, we roll out to help keep our community safe,” Whisenant said.
Sgt. Shannon Jenkins, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said authorities always want people to call 911 if they feel unsafe, but laws exist to prevent people from raising false alarms.
“It’s not just manpower that was taken away, it took away from another potential emergency,” Jenkins said.
“It was a blatant disregard for law enforcement and emergency personnel, who are here to protect citizens.”
Wann was “very apologetic and wanted to thank everyone for responding,” according to the affidavit.
Wann was released Friday from the Benton County Jail after posting a $2,500 bond. He has a hearing set for March 12 in Benton County Circuit Court.
In Arkansas, Class C felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.