Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Car slams into house in my Faribault neighborhood December 11, 2020

The scene mid-morning a block from my house shows a KIA Optima lodged in my neighbors’ house.

HOURS AFTER LAW ENFORCEMENT and first responders swarmed my Faribault neighborhood this morning, I called a neighbor to see if she knew what was happening. Up until that point, I’d only walked to the end of my driveway to, from afar, observe at least six police cars and other vehicles parked near a house on Tower Place, lights pulsating. Just minutes earlier, an ambulance turned the corner by my home, sirens blaring. That concerned me.

A child’s slide sits near the point of impact.

The neighbor in me wanted to run up the hill to assure everyone was OK. The journalist in me wanted to race up the hill with my camera. The you’re-not-a-reporter-anymore voice warned me to stay away, that emergency personnel didn’t need extra people roaming the scene.

Close-up you can really see the extent of the damage.

When I observed a tow truck and a flat bed tow truck driving up the street, I surmised that perhaps a vehicle hit the house. My neighbor confirmed that in our phone conversation.

I believe the tarped area is a fort where the boys who live here play.

At that point, with nearly all emergency personnel clearing the scene, I headed up Tower with my camera. I passed by an angled vehicle blocking the street and was greeted by a police officer who asked if I was from the Daily News. I told him I was a neighbor, but that I sometimes work with the local paper. He seemed OK with that. I asked if everyone inside the house—a couple with two elementary-aged boys—was alright. He assured me they were, but declined to give the condition of those in the vehicle. Media reports state both the driver and passenger were taken to the hospital with the passenger flown to the metro and that the incident involved a police pursuit which was called off.

This house is within a block of mine.

My first look at the blue KIA Optima lodged into the house at 128 Tower Place left me standing there in disbelief. The car apparently hit the house at a high rate of speed given the damage to both car and house and given the entire front of the KIA rested inside the home.

I’ve been in this house, when the previous owner lived there. If I remember correctly, the section hit is the kitchen. This incident happened around breakfast time, well before 9 a.m. That the family inside was not injured and that no gas explosion occurred are truly reasons to feel grateful.

Tracks and paint mark the path the car followed as it shot across the road and flew over a fence before landing inside the house.

Once I took my focus off the house and car, I looked for signs of how the KIA got into the yard without demolishing the chain link fence. Tire marks and paint sprayed by investigators show that the car failed to negotiate a turn and then launched from a hill, over the fence, across the yard and into the house.

Hours after the crash, police and State Patrol remained on-scene. This is located near Bethlehem Academy, to the left.

As I photographed the tire marks, the police officer standing guard advised me that I was walking in an investigation scene. I apologized. The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. I overheard him tell to young people that the Minnesota State Patrol would wrap up its investigation within an hour. He was tight-lipped, and rightly so. He suggested that I’d taken enough pictures. He extended only kindness to me at my misstep. I got the hint, apologized again, and started back home, shaken.

This isn’t the first time a car hit a house in my neighborhood. Decades ago, a parked car rolled down another steep hillside street and slammed into the front of our next-door neighbors’ house. And a tire once came off a vehicle, rolled down the hill and slammed into our house, nearly hitting the gas line/meter. The tire mark is still there on the siding. Yet, that’s nothing compared to what happened this morning at 128 Tower Place.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

More than a Christmas cactus

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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MY CHRISTMAS CACTUS, snugged into a corner of my dining room, blooms heavy with fuchsia blossoms.

I haven’t figured out how to time the flowering closer to Christmas. Each autumn I move the plant indoors to the dark basement, hoping that buds will form and flowers open late in December. That never happens. By late November buds develop and so I move the plant upstairs into the light and warmth. By Christmas, the cactus is all bloomed out.

Yet, does it matter? What matters is that the showy cactus fills my house with a beauty unmatched. And with a reminder of the maternal grandmother who died 64 years ago on December 1, two months after my birth.

My cactus flourished as a cutting from Grandma Josephine’s Christmas cactus. I don’t know the history of the original cactus, which was passed to my mother. But it’s been the source of many cuttings by family members. A link to the grandmother who died too young at age 49. The woman whom I’ve been told was loving and kind and caring. A lot like my mother, Arlene…

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling