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Illinois woman sparks hunt for Internet friend in Britain

April 11, 1997

LONDON (AP) _ An Illinois woman got British police to rescue her Scrabble opponent when the man suffered a seizure while playing the game over the Internet.

Dee Dobyne of suburban Chicago and John Elliott were engrossed in the spelling game via their computer hookup when Elliot sent the message: ``I’ve fallen on the floor and I can’t move or see. Please get help.″

Mrs. Dobyne replied: ``I’m not going to leave you. I don’t know what to do but I’m going to find a way to help you.″

She got no answer. The 24-year-old man, who has cerebral palsy, had passed out.

Mrs. Dobyne, 31, knew Elliott lived near a town called Cheltenham, but had no phone number or address.

A former telephone operator, Mrs. Dobnye called British telephone information services but was told she couldn’t trace him without knowing exactly where he lived.

``I was crying in frustration,″ she told the British national news agency Press Association of Wednesday’s incident.

Mrs. Dobyne put out messages over the Internet asking if other users knew where Elliott lived. She also contacted British Police Inspector David Winchester, who took over the search.

Five hours after Elliott’s call for help, police finally traced him to his home in Didcot, a village 50 miles west of London.

He said he was beginning to recover when two policemen and two paramedics arrived at his home.

``I had managed to get myself back into my wheelchair,″ Elliott said.

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