Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Six Seven People Killed in Minnesota's Monday Crashes

Monday was a really bad day to be driving in Minnesota: ice, temperatures hovering around the freezing point, with snow and slush.

There's been quite a bit in the news, about six folks who lost their lives in three different crashes. Most of the news focuses, understandably, on the four NDSU students who were buckled in, alcohol-free, and quite dead after their van crossed the median on I-94 near Alexandria.

I think the deaths of those four young women, a 13-year-old girl, and a women in her 20s, were all very sad events. No pressure, but prayer for them and for their families couldn't hurt.

The Seventh Victim

A seventh person was killed in one of those accidents. It's not-quite-mentioned in this article:
"Six lives lost in three hours"
Echo Press; Alexandria, Minnesota (February 22, 2012)

"In the space of three hours, six lives were lost in three separate crashes on snowy, slushy roads near Alexandria and Glenwood on Monday...."

"...A three-vehicle crash on State Highway 28 in Pope County in Glenwood at about 3:30 p.m. Monday also claimed a life.

"Steffanie Dahlseng, 26, of Starbuck was killed in the crash....

"...No other injuries were reported...."

Two people died on State Highway 28 that day, but I don't expect to see it in the news. Steffanie and Paul Dahlseng's baby would have been born around May 23, 2012: about three months from now. When Steffanie Dahlseng died, so did her six-month-along baby.

I learned about the Dahlseng's not-yet-born child at Mass today. As of this evening, their Walmart baby registry was still active:
"Welcome to PAUL DAHLSENG's and STEFFANIE DAHLSENG's Baby Registry!

May 23, 2012
(Walmart registry 24343611002)

Unpeople in America: 19th Century

It's been well over a century since Mark Twain wrote "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," and decades since the book was banned in American schools because Twain used a naughty word. 'Naughty' by the standards of today's establishment.

The word is [redacted], part of [redacted] Jim's name. I think it's regrettable that a sort of prudery kept one of literature's most powerful attacks on slavery and intolerance away from a generation of Americans.

I think this passage is one of the more eloquent descriptions of what happens when folks see others as non-people:
"...'...We blowed out a cylinder-head.'

" 'Good gracious! anybody hurt?''

"No'm. Killed a [redacted].'

"' Well, it's lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt....'..."
(Mark Twain, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" Part 2 (1885), Chapter XXXII., via Project Gutenberg)
(quoted previously (June 24, 2011)

Unpeople in America: 21st Century

Paul and Steffanie's baby is, by contemporary American standards, a non-person. Someone whose death doesn't count - because, as far as the establishment's values are concerned, there wasn't anybody there.

Paul and Steffanie obviously knew better, as evidenced by that baby registry.

Maybe someday, America's 'better sort' will realize that people are people: no matter how old they are.

We've made huge strides in the sort of cultural blindness Twain dramatized, so I think there's hope.

Related posts:


John & Schawonne said...

Brian... Thank you for this posting. On behalf of the family, it's really disappointing that none of the news articles mention Steffanie's unborn baby. The baby was a boy, and they named him Joshua James. All life is precious. We'll miss not just Stephanie, but the chance to know her baby Joshua.

Brigid said...

Technically there's nothing wrong with this sentence, but it feels awkward: "No pressure, but prayer for them and the families couldn't hurt."

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

P.S. Poor baby.

Brian Gill said...

John & Schawonne,

Thank *you* for the additional information. My wife and I lost two babies during pregnancy: Joy and Elizabeth. As you said - Joshua James and Stephanie will be missed.

Brian Gill said...


Agreed: on both counts.

I've tweaked the sentence, and have applied the principle of the speckled axe.

DJ Lindgren said...

Please continue to pray for Paul, his parents and siblings, and Steff's Mom and Dad, James & Judy, and sisters
Jennifer & husband Ryan, and Ally

Brian Gill said...

DJ Lindgren,

Done. Thanks for the reminder.

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.