911 tape released in child retention pond deaths

MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - It has been described as “five minutes of terror.”

"It" is the 911 call made by a Michiana mom in December as her car sank in a Mishawaka retention pond. A recording of the call was made public Monday.

16 News Now listened to the recording but decided not to play any portion of it on air.

From the start, Brooke Kleven’s voice was panicked. The first thing she said was, “Help, I’m stuck inside a pond in my car."

About two minutes into the call, Kleven is asked if she is able to roll a window down. She replies, “No, it doesn’t work.”

About 40 seconds later, an eerie unintended silence begins on the dispatcher’s part as Kleven asks “I need some air, what do I do?” Apparently the dispatcher was trying to answer the question but did so while her microphone was on mute.

“There was given instructions on how to roll the windows down, starting in the back of the vehicle first because the engine of vehicles are heavier and it will sink first,” explained Raymond Schultz, executive director of St. Joseph County 911.

The county dispatch center reluctantly released the recorded call Monday. Up to this point, officials had kept exposure to less than 10 people.

“Our quality assurance team had to listen to it to do their quality assurance, audit on it. The father, the husband, Mr. Kleven, has heard it. We tried to limit it to as best we can,” Schultz said. “It’s just five minutes of terror.”

About 4 1/2 minutes in, the call is lost — the line goes dead, and dispatch tries calling back to no avail.

The accident claimed the lives of two of the Kleven children, 4-year-old James and 2-year-old Natalie.

Brooke Kleven and an infant child named Hendrik survived.