9-1-1 Probe Follows Drowning Death Of Elderly Motorist

(CBS) — A suburban 9-1-1 dispatch center has launched an investigation after an 89-year-old man died when his car sank in an Arlington Heights retention pond.

The victim was on the phone with 9-1-1 at the time. The question: Did the dispatcher do enough to try to save the man’s life?

CBS 2’s Chris Martinez reports.

In the call to an emergency dispatcher, a dozen questions are asked in barely 2 minutes, such as, “What’s your telephone number?”

But it wasn’t enough.

“Sir! Sir! I’m getting you help, OK?” the dispatcher told Henry Laseke as his car sank into a retention pond.

Laseke crashed his Cadillac SUV into an electrical transformer and a townhome in the Arlington on the Ponds subdivision on July 25. The car then plunged into a retention pond behind the man’s home, and he was trapped inside the vehicle.

While talking with 9-1-1, the 89-year-old answered every question, telling the dispatcher his foot got stuck on the accelerator before his car went into the water.

His final words: “Hurry up. I’m sinking. The water is coming up.”

Laseke was told to wait and never asked by the dispatcher if he could escape on his own; nor did she tell him to try, as she was authorized to do.

It’s why the company that took the call, Northwest Central Dispatch System, has launched an inquiry to determine “whether all standards and protocols were met.”

A witness tells CBS 2 it’s unlikely the outcome could have been different, regardless of interactions with the 9-1-1 dispatcher.

“I’m sure it wouldn’t have done any difference, because he couldn’t get the window open,” Audrey Hafer said.

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