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Article updated: 7/26/2013 5:31 PM

Arlington Hts. man who drowned in pond called 911

Authorities confirmed Friday that 89-year-old Henry Laseke of Arlington Heights died by accidental drowning and that he'd called 911 himself after his SUV plunged into a retention pond behind his townhouse Thursday.

Authorities confirmed Friday that 89-year-old Henry Laseke of Arlington Heights died by accidental drowning and that he'd called 911 himself after his SUV plunged into a retention pond behind his townhouse Thursday.

 

George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

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One of the 911 calls about 89-year-old Henry Laseke's fatal plunge into an Arlington Heights retention pond while inside his SUV was from Laseke himself.

Pat Dollard, assistant director of technical services for the Northwest Central Dispatch System, confirmed that a 911 call from Laseke was one of six his agency received Thursday in just over a minute beginning at 6:58 a.m.

Release of the 911 recordings was still awaiting approval Friday and is anticipated for Monday, July 29.

The Cook County medical examiner's office Friday determined Laseke's cause of death to be an accidental drowning.

Rick Geiger, one of Laseke's neighbors on Courtland Drive in Arlington Heights, said he made eye contact with Laseke after running into the pond behind their townhouses while the SUV was still floating on the surface.

Geiger tried unsuccessfully to open the door or break a window on the SUV. He described Laseke as holding a phone to his ear but being in an obvious state of shock.

After several minutes during which Geiger and another neighbor tried to get Laseke out of the vehicle, the SUV sank below the surface.

Arlington Heights Fire Department divers also were unable to break into the SUV. By the time the vehicle was pulled out of the water, Laseke had been submerged between 10 and 20 minutes, Geiger estimated.

An investigation is still under way to determine what caused Laseke to drive into the retention pond. Neighbors thought he might have been backing into his garage when he accidentally accelerated and hit a neighboring townhouse, an electric box and finally the pond while in reverse.

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