Granger family who lost two children in retention pond crash sue for negligence | News Today

Granger family who lost two children in retention pond crash sue for negligence

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Rescue teams pulled out a van that slipped into a retention basin on University Drive in Mishawaka on Tuesday. Two children died in the incident.

A lawsuit stemming from a retention pond accident that killed two children in December 2019 attributes the incident to negligence and poor training by the 911 dispatch center, first responders and government officials, as well as improper design of the pond and dispatch center software.

The accident killed 4-year-old James Kleven and 2-year-old Natalie Kleven and seriously injured their mother, Brooke Kleven, and their baby brother, Hendrik Kleven. A car carrying the four family members slid off the slippery road on University Park Drive and entered a retention pond near a Red Roof Inn and across from Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

A report on the incident released in February 2020 by the St. Joseph County 911 dispatch center found that first responders were delayed in arriving at the scene due to the actions of two dispatch center call takers.

The lawsuit, filed on Monday by the Kleven family, claims those dispatchers acted with willful indifference and recklessness during the incident. The lawsuit goes on to say, however, that the county’s 911 dispatch center has consistently failed to train call takers on new software and protocols surrounding water rescue situations.

The lawsuit also names Motorola, which has implemented new software for the 911 Center, the Town of Mishawaka, the Clay Township Fire Department and the Great Lakes Capitol and Bradly Company, which own and operate the property where it is located. the pond.

St. Joseph County attorney Michael Misch declined to comment, saying the county is not commenting on pending litigation. Ray Schultz, executive director of the dispatch center, declined to comment.

Following:Questions surround Mishawaka Pond crash that killed 2 children, including actions of dispatchers

The Klevens were trapped in a car in icy water for more than 25 minutes before being pulled out by rescue divers. James and Natalie Kleven were pronounced dead in hospital shortly after arriving, while Hendrik Kleven, who was 3 months old at the time of the crash, and his mother survived.

Chicago-based Maureen Molly Nick represents the Kleven family, who live in Granger. Lawyers for the firm did not immediately respond to a reporter on Friday.

Dispatch “faults”

On the afternoon of December 31, 2019, Brooke Kleven was driving her children east on University Park Drive when she lost control of her car in freezing conditions and slipped off the road and into a pool of retention. St. Joseph County Fatal Crash Response Team investigators said there was no indication Brooke Kleven was accelerating.

As the Klevens’ car entered the pond, dispatchers received two calls alerting them to the ongoing events.

The first call came from a bystander witnessing the crash and was answered by Jeffrey Downey, who is named as the accused in the lawsuit.

Downey “missed an opportunity to quickly identify the location of the pond” in part because the mapping software used to select the location of the call was blocked by a web browser he was watching, according to a report from the dispatch center. Downey also coded the call as an accident, not a vehicle in the water, which delayed the arrival of dive teams, the trial and the status of the report.

The second call came from Brooke Kleven who called 911 from inside her car as water began to submerge the vehicle.

Jennifer Stitsworth, the dispatcher on the other end of the phone, did not follow protocols by not immediately telling Brooke Kleven how to get out of the car once she learned Kleven was trapped, according to the report and the center trial.

Following:Report Shows ‘Deficiencies’ in 911 Center Handling of Fatal Mishawaka Pond Crash

Additionally, Stitsworth cut herself off at one point to ask for help from other dispatchers, but forgot to wake up when she resumed giving instructions to Kleven.

Stitsworth was fired and Downey resigned following the incident, Downey writing in his resignation email that he could “no longer serve an organization which grossly neglected training and mistreated employees as they did. done within the last 2 years “.

At the conclusion of the center’s report, Schultz wrote that it would be “pure speculation” to suggest the outcome would have changed without the “missteps” of the dispatchers.

Brooke Kleven suffers from sporadic paraplegia, according to the costume, while Hendrik Kleven has lost control of one of her limbs and suffers from a speech impediment.

The lawsuit also says the pond did not comply with government regulations governing retention ponds and the names of the defendants Great Lakes Capitol and Bradley Company, which own and operate the City Plaza shopping center where the pond is located.

Representatives of the companies did not return messages seeking comment on Friday.

The town of Mishawaka is also named in the lawsuit for failing to inspect the pond and failing to install barriers after previously documented retention basin accidents.

City attorney Pat Hinkle declined to comment.

The lawsuit does not seek a specific monetary amount, but seeks “compensatory damages, economic losses, special losses, special damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.”

Email Marek Mazurek at Follow him on Twitter: @marek_mazurek

This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: Granger Pond Accident Lawsuit Mishawaka St. Joseph County 911 Expedition

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