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.
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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McClatchy-Tribune News Service