Elgin mourns crash victims
By Christina Killion Valdez
ELGIN — Something is missing in just about every aspect of life in Elgin after Dale Stahl, 67, his wife, Jo Ann Stahl, 59, and their granddaughter Jessica Klindworth, 17, died in a car crash Saturday.
Usually on Easter Sunday, young people — including Klindworth and her sister Jennifer Klindworth, 16, who was injured in the crash — help cook breakfast at Trinity Lutheran Church in Elgin.
Without the family there this year, "it didn’t even feel like Easter," said Patty Duden, who would volunteer at the church with Jo Ann.
The car in which the Stahls were riding with their granddaughters collided with a tractor and caught fire at about 3 p.m. Saturday on 65th Street Northeast near Elgin. The Stahls died at the scene. Jessica was flown to Saint Marys Hospital, where she died. Jennifer was taken by ambulance with injuries and has been released.
"Our whole community has taken it a little tough," Mayor Rich Hall said. "The Elgin fire and ambulance both responded to the scene. That is something that is hard for small-town volunteers to have to deal with, but they did everything they could, so they can walk away with that."
Now, the town is focused on remembering the family.
In honor of Jo Ann Stahl’s extensive service to the community — she was a former member of the school board, city council and Economic Development Board, and a longtime chairwoman of the Planning and Zoning Commission — the city is considering lowering the flags to half staff the day of the funeral or interment, and will have a moment of silence at Monday’s council meeting.
"She gave a lot of time and effort," Hall said. "She knew what she was talking about and was good at what she did."
He added, "She always put the community first."
Dale Stahl, who farmed just outside Elgin, is remembered for his kind heart and generosity.
"I remember driving past his place after a snowstorm, and he’d always be out cleaning the neighbors’ driveways," Hall said.
Despite all that they gave to the community, the Stahls put their family first.
"Their granddaughters were their life — all of their grandkids were," Duden said.
Meanwhile, in Plainview at Jessica’s school on Monday, friends remembered her as having many of the same qualities that adults talked about for her grandparents.
Page A4: Friends reflect
on Jessica Klindworth