‘Siri, Call Mom’: How One Woman Used an iPhone to Reach a Las Vegas Victims Family
In the days since the Las Vegas shooting, thousands of people have told stories of escape, anguish, and horror. But it’s up to survivors to tell the stories of the victims, and Heather Gooze’s tale of how she used Facebook and an iPhone to identify one man who was killed serves as a reminder to everyone with a smartphone: Designate someone in your address book as an emergency contact.
Working as a bartender at the concert, Gooze escaped the gunfire but found herself next to Jordan McIldoon, according to interviews with CNN and CBS. McIldoon had been shot and died in Gooze’s arms. But she refused to leave him until she found his family or friends.
“I didn’t want him to just be a no-named body,” Gooze told CNN. “I knew who he was and I had an obligation to make sure that everybody knew who he was.”
To figure out who this mystery man was, Gooze was unable to access his iPhone, which was locked using Apple’s Touch ID technolgy. Instead, she pulled McIldoon’s photo ID card out of his wallet, and searched for his name on Facebook. Once she found his account, she began messaging his friends from her own account, telling them that she was with their friend, and that he had been shot.
Soon after, a friend replied to Gooze and told her that McIldoon had been at the concert with his girlfriend. Gooze got the girlfriend’s number and texted a photo of McIldoon’s ID to it, asking if she knew the man in the picture. A reply came back—McIldoon’s girlfriend was safe in another hotel, two blocks away.
Meanwhile, McIldoon’s phone also rang—it was his mother—and Gooze answered it. Gooze told the woman that she would stay with her son’s body as long as she could. “I didn’t want Jordan to not have somebody with him,” Gooze told CNN. “So I stayed all the way until the detective came.”
But later, when it came time to update McIldoon’s mother, Gooze realized she had forgotten to get her phone number. Eventually, however, Gooze realized that she could bypass the iPhone’s security measures simply by asking Siri to “call mom.” She was able to reach McIldoon’s mother again, and update her on the situation.
In case of emergency, iPhones do have a feature that gives strangers access to medical information and an important contacts’ information. Configurable in Apple’s Health app, the Medical ID profile is where iPhone owners can enter information like medical conditions, medications, blood type, and people to call in case the phone’s owner has been incapacitated.
After setting up the feature, the phone will show an “Emergency” option at the bottom left-hand corner of the lock screen. Tapping on the option brings up an emergency call mode that lets unauthorized users make 911 calls. That screen also has the Medical ID option at the bottom left-hand corner, which when tapped on reveals the owner’s personal information.
Among the data that users can input is whether or not the owner is an organ donor. And if you’re not currently one, you can become one simply by checking a box—a feature that Apple CEO Tim Cook said was partially inspired by Steve Jobs.