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Home > Topics > Fire-EMS

Man who died in 'mishandled' drowning leaves $400K to responders

The money from his estate will fund a new ambulance and the police K-9 unit for the next 10 years

By Sally Ho
Chicago Tribune

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — His last call for help might have been mishandled, but Henry Laseke left $400,000 for local emergency responders in his will after an Arlington Heights drowning incident last summer.

Henry Laseke's estate gave the Arlington Heights fire and police departments $200,000 each. The money is paying for a new ambulance and is enough to fund the police K-9 unit for the next 10 years, officials said.

"He was a wonderful person," said Judy Filek, a family friend who is managing the Laseke estate. "He was very quiet, not the type of person you would notice, but you know, he was very loyal."

Arlington Heights police Chief Gerald Mourning said he met with Laseke and his lawyer about three years ago as Laseke was preparing his will. The police chief suggested money for the K-9 unit because Laseke indicated he wanted to help the community with something "above and beyond" the Police Department budget.

"He said very little at the meeting," Mourning said. "I've never encountered this or anything like this (donation). I've been a police chief 24 years and it's the first time anything like this has occurred."

Village Finance Director Tom Kuehne said Laseke made the "very generous" donation after having used paramedic services over the years.

Laseke, 89, drowned after driving his Cadillac SUV into the pond next to his Arlington Heights home July 25.

Police said they believe Laseke lost control of the SUV and struck an electrical box and then a post that holds up a balcony on a nearby condominium, then ended up in the pond. Two of Laseke's neighbors jumped into the water to try to save him that morning in the 1500 block of Courtland Drive.

The dispatcher, who was the last person to speak with Laseke, ultimately was disciplined for mishandling his 911 call, although documents from Northwest Central Dispatch suggest the dispatcher's actions did not slow the response time, as other calls reporting the same emergency came in seconds earlier.

The employee, who, in an apparent violation of the agency's protocol, failed to advise Laseke to try to get out of the sinking SUV, said she had been on vacation when supervisors requested that dispatchers review water rescue protocols weeks earlier.

The Laseke family has been involved in the Arlington Heights community for decades.

Laseke Disposal Co. once held the garbage contract in the village, which officials said lasted through the 1970s. Laseke's father was also involved in having Northwest Community Hospital built in Arlington Heights, Filek said.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Filek said she met Laseke when he lived in Long Grove, and he became like a father to her. Laseke and his wife, who is dead, had no children.

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Healey-Wolfenbarger Barbie Healey-Wolfenbarger Barbie Thursday, March 20, 2014 11:52:50 AM Well it said that the "Protocol" were reviews. Did she not learn the procedures the first time. On vacation--she simply should of said I had smoked legal pot before coming into work and I couldn't think straight. Fire Her!!!! How many more lives will have to be lost for people who are not qualified to do the job
Dominick Walenczak Dominick Walenczak Thursday, March 20, 2014 2:10:15 PM People need to be specifically told to exit their sinking car?
Local Guy Local Guy Thursday, March 20, 2014 3:39:30 PM If the 89 year old couldn't figure out he should get out, and his neighbors who jumped in couldn't get him out, I don't know that the dispatcher advising him he should boogie would have made a difference. Awfully generous of him though.
Jeanette Vlcek Jeanette Vlcek Thursday, March 20, 2014 4:03:48 PM Mr. Laseke was 89 YEARS OLD. One of his neighbors who was in the pond within seconds described him a "kind of frozen". That's what happens to people even if they are not very elderly. He knew his neighbors had come to his aid. Perhaps he thought they would get him out of the car. Surely you have more compassion for your patients?
Mitchell Reynolds Mitchell Reynolds Thursday, March 20, 2014 6:16:48 PM well they do have to be specifically told not to drink and never know.
Dominick Walenczak Dominick Walenczak Thursday, March 20, 2014 7:18:30 PM In which case, it does not sound like a significant "mishandling" of the call by the call handler. I do not criticise the late Mr. Laseke. I feel that those who are able to would egress the vehicle of their own accord and do not need prompting to do so. Just surprised that they would come down so hard on this call handler for omitting that instruction unless there are other factors with which we are not familiar.
Robert O'Connor Robert O'Connor Thursday, March 20, 2014 10:46:18 PM Barbie your the most mean ignorant troll I have seen tonight...
Mitchell Reynolds Mitchell Reynolds Friday, March 21, 2014 7:08:48 AM I couldn't agree with you any more! I personally think from the recording it was handled properly.
Mohanadasan Veeriah Mohanadasan Veeriah Monday, March 24, 2014 7:28:18 AM awesome, very sincere in life.

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