MISHAWAKA — A 911 dispatcher speaking to a desperate driver who had veered into a frozen northern Indiana pond should have focused on advising her how to get herself and her three young children to safety instead of spending the beginning of the call trying to determine the pond's location, an investigation found.

Research shows there is only about one minute for occupants to safely get out of a vehicle once it enters water, yet the dispatcher spent over 90 seconds during Brooke Kleven's New Year's Eve call trying to verify the location of the accident, according to a report released Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a second St. Joseph's County dispatcher speaking to a bystander who witnessed the crash and called 911 erred by classifying it as an "accident" rather than a "vehicle in water," which delayed the response of a dive team to the location, the South Bend Tribune reported. It took 14 minutes from the time of Kleven's call for a diver to enter the pond in Mishawaka.

The crash occurred when Kleven missed a curve on an icy road. Two of Kleven's children, 4-year-old James Kleven and 2-year-old Natalie Kleven, drowned. Brooke Kleven and her 3-month-old daughter, Hendrix Kleven, were critically injured but survived.

The two dispatchers have resigned since the crash but likely would have been disciplined if they hadn't for failing to follow protocol in an emergency situation, Ray Schultz, the dispatch center's director, said in the report.

Schultz said it's unclear why the second dispatcher did not use the dispatch's center's software to correctly code the incident. But he also said it would be "pure speculation" to suggest that the outcome of the crash would have changed had it not been for the dispatchers' "missteps."

"(Kleven) had gotten them all free. All of the children were out of their buckles and seat belts," Schultz said. "She just ran out of time to get out of the vehicle."

Brooke Kleven has been transferred to a rehabilitation facility, and her daughter Hendrix has been released from the hospital.


A Virginia woman accused of abducting her four children and leading authorities on a nationwide chase for several months was taken into custody Wednesday morning in Indiana, authorities said.

Melody Bannister, 34, of Henrico, Virginia, was arrested at a gas station in Hendricks County by U.S. Marshals and local authorities after being on the run for more than four months, news outlets reported. Her children were found safe inside her car and were taken by the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Bannister was wanted in Stafford County, Virginia, on four counts of abduction, filing a false police report, and violating a court order.

The Stafford County Sheriff's Office said an investigation into Bannister began last June when she told deputies her children were being abused by a family member. The investigation by the sheriff's office and Child Protection Services determined that the accusations were baseless.

Bannister went on a planned vacation shortly before the Stafford County Juvenile Domestic & Relations Court granted custody of the children to their father. Bannister refused to give the children up.

She later petitioned for custody in Alabama but was ordered to return the children. Bannister fled and led authorities on a chase through at least eight states, including Wisconsin, Texas and Colorado.

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