Albertville City Council to Hear Proposal for Bus Accident Memorial
A temporary memorial to Jessica Weishair of Pelican Rapids has stood along the fence between Interstate 94 and the Wright County Road 37 on ramp. Now, plans are in the works for a permanent memorial.
For nearly five years, Jessica Weishair's parents had been able to visit the site of their daughter's death by caring for a small memorial placed on the fence near the County Road 37 onramp at Interstate 94.
Since that fateful day in April of 2008, there had been pictures, cards, ribbons and flowers placed in 16-year-old Jessica's honor. The Pelican Rapids High School student was killed in the tragic bus accident early on April 5, 2008.
With the city reconfiguring Interstate 94 in that area this year, the fence that had hosted the small memorial was taken down. The cards and picutres were placed in storage, as the City of Albertville worked with the Albertville Fire Department and the Weishair family to figure out a more permanent solution for a memorial.
Tonight, the Albertville City Council and Mayor Mark Meehan will discuss the latest proposal, presented by Fire Chief Tate Mills.
"It's a call all of us still remember," Mills said of the accident. Albertville Fire was among the first on the scene. "We've worked very closely with Jessica's mom and dad to figure out what would be best, and what would fit."
The proposal includes a small memorial and a butterfly garden. It will be accessed via the frontage road which brings traffic to local businesses.
"It should be a nice, quiet spot. She [Jessica] loved butterflies, so her parents really liked the idea," Mills said.
Tonight's council meeting is at 7 p.m. at Albertville City Hall. The public is invited, as always, to attend.
The ill-fated bus was on a trip from Chicago back to Pelican Rapids when the driver fell asleep at the wheel, sending the bus veering to the right. The Richards Bus line vehicle launched through a ditch, over the on-ramp and then down into another ditch, where it rolled onto its side.
More than a dozen people were injured in the accident. Three fire departments, the Minnesota State Patrol, Wright County deputies and North Memorial Life Flight ambulance all responded to the scene, as well as Allina and New River Ambulance.
The driver of the bus, then-68-year-old Loren Ernst of Moorhead, was given a plea deal of gross misdemeanor of criminal vehicular operation. The arrangement was given approval by Weishair's parents, and Ernst, who faced counts of criminal vehicular homicide, served a minimal sentence.