Pechumer remembered as ‘friendly guy’

Published 9:43 am Tuesday, July 8, 2008

People who knew 37-year-old Kelly John Pechumer of Alden say he was an athlete, a likeable person and a hard worker.

Pechumer died Thursday afternoon at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester as the result of 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 a 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche sport-utility truck drove into a washed-out section of Freeborn County Road 34, hitting the southside portion of the washout and landing on top of a steel culvert.

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

Co-workers at Alamco remember the second victim, Pechumer, as a “friendly guy, people liked him. He was a good worker,” said CEO John Forman.

Pechumer’s funeral is 2 p.m. today at the Bayview/Freeborn Funeral Home. Visitation was Monday and one hour prior to today’s service. His interment will be at Hillcrest Cemetery with military honors accorded by the Freeborn County servicemen’s organization.

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

“He’ll be missed by everybody,” Forman said.

Pechumer had been known to play a few tricks on his co-workers occasionally, according to Forman.

“He was kind of a jovial type of guy,” he said. “Generally if I walked through the plant he would say ‘hello’ and ‘how are things going?’

Forman said he knew Pechumer a little bit before he came to work at Alamco. At Albert Lea High School, Pechumer was on the wrestling team and went to state competitions twice. Forman’s son was on the wrestling team a few years after Pechumer.

The two would talk about wrestling and how Forman’s son is doing, he said.

“He was a very good wrestler for Albert Lea,” Forman said.

After graduating from ALHS, Pechumer went to Minnesota State University, Mankato, and later joined the U.S. Army. Once he got out of the Army, he worked at Streaters until 2000.

Fellow passenger in the crash Broc Dempewolf also worked at Alamco, and Forman said the crash has been the talk of the plant since. Employees are wondering how the victims are and how the families are dealing with the injuries and deaths.

“It was a lot of concern, a lot of talk for the week after the accident,” Forman said. “We’re in the process of trying to deal with it.”

The plant has been in contact with the families, he said, and co-workers were informed of Pechumer’s death soon after he was taken off life support.

As of Monday morning, Alamco was making arrangements to let workers off work who want to attend Pechumer’s funeral. If enough want to attend, the plant may be shut down temporarily, according to Forman.

Floods washed out a 30-foot section of County Road 34 June 11 and 12, killing Dale Wangen of rural Albert Lea.

Six people were in the truck that drove around barricades and into the washed-out part of County Road 34 over a week ago. A seventh person responded to the emergency call and ended up driving into the washed out section as well. All sustained injuries.

Fellow passengers Dempewolf, Langdon Brooks Bachtle, Nathan Buchli, and driver Charles Kenneth Dennison have all been released from St. Marys Hospital. The emergency responder, Alex Jay Kline, was reported to have minor injuries.