TUESDAY EVENING, MARCH 21, and we are kicked back, relaxing, watching “Will Trent.” And then it happens. BOOM! The undeniable sound of a crash. But we hear no screeching tires that would indicate slamming of brakes.
We pop from our comfy spots to peer out the windows. In the 9:30 pm dark of March, we see a vehicle parked in front of our house, then people walking down the middle of the street, busy Willow Street. Our eyes follow their path to a neighbor’s driveway and a smashed car. Demolished. We see no second vehicle near the crash scene.
Randy grabs his cellphone, steps outside in his slippers, phones the police. We have no idea what’s just happened, whether anyone has been injured. We know law enforcement needs to be summoned. Soon multiple squad cars arrive. We remain clueless and begin speculating as to what unfolded.
Wednesday morning I spoke with the owner of the totaled car. She was sleeping when an unknown vehicle slammed into her unoccupied car parked curbside by her house in the 400 block of Willow Street. I breathed a sigh of relief, told her how thankful I was that she was not in her car. Despite the loss of what she said was her “best” car, she also said she felt blessed.
My neighbor was remarkably calm. But also determined. She’d already begun phoning auto body repair shops and auto salvage yards in an attempt to locate the vehicle that destroyed her early 2000 Toyota Corolla. Yes, the driver left without stopping. How any vehicle managed to remain operable after totaling my neighbor’s car is beyond my comprehension. And how anyone in good conscience could leave the scene is also incomprehensible. But, hey, a driver drove away (never to be found) after striking my son as he crossed Willow Street to his bus stop in 2006.
On behalf of my neighbor, who asked if I am on Facebook (I’m not), I’m posting this information here in hopes that someone can help find the person responsible. State law requires drivers to stop following a crash. The person who parked her vehicle outside our house Tuesday evening was driving on Willow at the time of the incident and did the right thing by immediately stopping upon hearing the BOOM.
The hit-and-run vehicle is likely a large pick-up (or other) truck, probably with significant front end damage, my neighbor shared. Willow Street is a heavily-traveled arterial street in Faribault. I have to think that someone saw something that may be helpful. Perhaps a doorbell or surveillance camera will show a suspect vehicle.
Please, if you have any information, contact Faribault police at 507-334-4305. That plea goes to possible witnesses, garages, auto body repair shops, salvage yards, Willow Street residents. If someone you know is suddenly no longer driving their pick-up truck and your gut is telling you something, then do something.
My neighbor doesn’t seem the revengeful type. She just wants her losses covered. Then maybe she can sleep at night. It was disheartening to watch her Wednesday morning removing debris from the street, sweeping glass, emptying her car. She deserves justice.
© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
My thoughts on the prejudice that threads through my Minnesota community April 19, 2018
Tags: comment, community, discrimination, Faribault, Faribault Public Schools, hit-and-run, Minnesota, minorities, open enrollment, opinion, prejudice, race, racism, thoughts
A photo and comment by a visitor posted at the “Selma to Montgomery: Marching Along the Voting Rights Trail” exhibit at St. Olaf College in 2015, used here for illustration only. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.
TWELVE YEARS AFTER my then 12-year-old son was struck by a car while crossing the street to his school bus stop, my husband and I are still occasionally asked whether the driver in the hit-and-run has ever been found. The answer: No.
I’m OK with that. Caleb was not seriously injured and enough time has passed since the May 12, 2006, incident that my anger has subsided.
But now my anger has risen anew—not at the driver but rather at a recent comment made by an acquaintance. “Was it a Mexican?” the man asked of the unknown driver.
A chair placed before a Stephen Somerstein photo offers visitors a place to sit and contemplate in the “Selma” exhibit. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.
How do you respond to something like that—something so totally ignorant and racist and uncalled for that it makes my blood boil to think that someone in this day—2018—would even think that, let alone speak it. Why that assumption? What led him to believe the driver was a “Mexican” versus a Caucasian or even a green alien from Mars?
I can’t tolerate this type of blatant racism. About Hispanics. About Somalians. About anyone. Just days ago I heard negative comments about Somalians as it relates to parking issues in Faribault’s downtown business district.
A St. Olaf College student/staffer studies an image of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the “Selma” exhibit in April 2015. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.
I didn’t grow up here. Once I was an outsider trying to fit into Faribault, where generations of families live, where many people are inter-related, where young people stay upon graduating from high school or return to after college. I’m not saying those are bad things. Faribault’s a wonderful place to live. But I suspect the hometown factor, the deep roots, may have something to do with the “was it a Mexican” type attitude some locals hold toward newcomers, especially those of color. There’s fear in the unknown, fear in change, fear in the prospect of a community becoming something different than it has always been.
Kids used markers to create flags from their native countries during the International Festival Faribault in August 2015. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo used for illustration only.
Change oftentimes does not come easily. Yet, that’s no excuse for sweeping negative assumptions and racism. I am thankful for the efforts of many within Faribault who welcome newcomers. Like the Faribault Diversity Coalition and individuals who tutor, assist, teach, embrace immigrants and, yes, even welcome outsiders like me from Redwood County, Minnesota. I arrived here 36 years ago knowing only my new husband (also a non-native). It took awhile for me to fit in, to find my place here.
Today I consider Faribault home. I love this community and the many dear friends I’ve made here. But I don’t appreciate the underlying and sometimes overt prejudice I occasionally see and hear.
“Was it a Mexican?”
No, my son was struck by a blue 4-door Chevrolet Cavalier or Corsica. Driver unknown. Race unimportant.
ON THE SAME TOPIC:
I find especially notable a comment made by Faribault Public School Superintendent Todd Sesker during an “AM Minnesota” interview with Gordy Kosfeld on KDHL radio. During that Monday morning interview, Sesker discussed the issue of 400-plus students open-enrolling outside of the Faribault School District. The district plans to survey families and learn why these students are choosing to attend schools elsewhere.
The ever-changing/growing diversity of Faribault High School shows in this post commencement photo taken in May 2012. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2012.
Sesker says, in part, “We know some of the rumors that are out there and some of the people that are complaining about our schools. We know about the cultural differences…”
“…the cultural differences…”
That tells me a lot.
According to 2018 enrollment by race/ethnicity data published on the Minnesota Department of Education website, more than half of the students in Faribault Public Schools are of a race/ethnicity other than White. Here’s the break-down on the three largest ethnic groups among the district’s 3,777 students, according to the MDE: 24.2 percent are Hispanic/Latino, 23.8 percent are Black/African American, and 47.4 percent are White.
I suggest you listen to the radio interview with Sesker by clicking here. Discussion on the open enrollment issue begins at about minute 13.
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© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling