‘Help, we are drowning’: 911 call from Shakopee women released
The recording and transcripts of a 911 call made by two Shakopee women who drowned last month, just released by Chaska police, offer new details but also raise more questions about the tragedy.
The data, which include police radio discussions and other phone calls, show that police arrived at the area where the women later were found within three minutes of their panicked call, but officers didn’t connect a deep pond in Chaska with the emergency.
Zeynab “Hapsa” Abdalla and Bushra Abdi, both 19, went missing early on Oct. 13. It wasn’t until the evening of Oct. 14 that police located their bodies and car in the pond.
The incident rocked the Somali-American community, which had scheduled a search for the women. Some family and community members have questioned how police responded to the crisis.
Chaska police haven’t completed their investigation. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the women died of accidental drowning.
The women, best friends and Shakopee High School graduates, were working overnight shifts at Amazon in Shakopee and a Chaska nursing home on Oct. 12-13. They met at 2:47 a.m. in Chaska on a work break, and family members believe they drove to a gas station to grab snacks. Abdalla, who was driving, didn’t have a driver’s license or a permit.
At 3:07 a.m., a 911 call was placed from Abdalla’s phone. At least one woman screamed for help; then, after 54 seconds, the line went dead. The dispatcher repeated “Hello?”
Police had two transcripts made of the call. The first was done in the weeks following the incident, and the second was made after further analysis. Both transcripts reveal that the female caller — either Abdalla or Abdi — frantically tried to explain what was happening.
“Help, we are drowning,” the woman said, later adding, “We are in water,” and “My God, we are drowning.” She went on to say that they were “just stuck.” Later, she said, “Help us, help us. Somebody help us. We are under …”
However, the recording shows that the call was very difficult to understand.
It ends with screaming, and the dispatcher asking if someone is there. The dispatcher called the number back five times in a three-minute span, but the call went to voice mail.
Meanwhile, Chaska police headed to White Oak Drive and Hwy. 41 for “some kind of disturbance,” noting that the call came from within 92 feet of the intersection.
Police instructed the dispatcher to call the nearby Holiday station to alert an employee, who went outside but didn’t see anything. By the end of that call, police were on the scene.
The dispatcher called ATT to determine who owned the phone and to ping its location. It was linked to Abdalla and a Shakopee address. When the phone was pinged, the location was determined to be near Interstate 35W.
A Carver County dispatcher called Scott County at 3:46 a.m. and relayed the mysterious 911 calls, including the words “get off.” They talked about possible scenarios. One said the call “sounded pretty bad.”
In the final conversation, two Carver County dispatchers discussed the 911 call and listened to it again. “And then at the end you can hear like some … it’s just like tussling, almost like the phone is being tossed,” one said.
The women eventually were found in the pond. Skid marks showed they were likely turning right and instead made nearly a U-turn into the water.
The cousins’ family had planned a news conference for last week following the release of the 911 call and transcripts, but the family decided to hold off to allow police to finish the investigation, said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Hussein said CAIR-MN is representing the family.
Erin Adler • 612-673-1781