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Family, co-workers gather to remember second County Road 34 victim

Family, friends and co-workers of 37-year-old Kelly John Pechumer — the second person to die as a result of a recent car wreck on Freeborn County Road 34 — gathered Tuesday to mourn his loss and remember him for his fun-loving, friendly nature.

Pechumer, an Albert Lea High School graduate and former wrestler, died Thursday at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester from injuries sustained in an automobile crash June 29. He had been in critical condition since the incident.

The crash took the lives of two people when the 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche sport-utility truck they were riding in drove into a washed-out section of County 34, hitting the southside portion of the washout and landing on top of a steel culvert.

The first victim, Kelly Jo Abrego, 25, of Myrtle, died shortly after the crash at St. Marys Hospital, leaving behind three children.

Pechumer was the oldest of those involved.

Floods had washed out the 30-foot section of the road June 11 and 12, also leading to the death of another man, Dale Wangen of rural Albert Lea.

The Rev. George Marin, who officiated at Pechumer’s funeral service at Bayview/Freeborn Funeral Home, said Pechumer was a man who could easily make friends. Being a true friend takes overlooking faults and being forgiving, and it’s something that must withstand both good and bad times.

“This young man, Kelly, was a true friend,” Marin said. “True friendship is a rare commodity in the world we live today.”

One of the greatest compliments that could ever be given to someone, he said, is to tell them they’re a friendly person. And this was true of Pechumer.

In fact, it is because of Pechumer’s friendliness that the large crowd, including several co-workers from Alamco, gathered at the funeral, he noted.

Pechumer began working in the glue department of Alamco in 2000, but after he developed an allergy to glue, the company moved him outside to work on the lumber-grading chain.

No matter what he was doing, he was known as a hardworker, which is a great point of integrity, Marin said.

“He was a friendly person; he was someone you could rely upon,” he said.

Pechumer was also a veteran, a true patriot that was willing to stand up for his country, Marin said. He was honored with military honors during his burial at Hillcrest Cemetery.

“It’s been a tough couple of days for the community of Albert Lea and Freeborn County … ” Marin said. “When a life is taken unexpectedly there is great emotion.

“Your lives will never be the same after this day … but there is a time and a season for everything.”

Though the community and those who knew Pechumer need to take the time to grieve his loss, they must also remember the good things — the jokes and the fun times, Marin said.

Pechumer enjoyed fishing, sports and collecting baseball and football cards. He was born to Linda Carpenter and Willard Pechumar.