The last 4-person fatality was back in 1988

Published 9:15 am Monday, August 24, 2009

Four people died in a collision on Interstate 90 on Wednesday. Scribble Aug. 19, 2009, down in the local history books because the last time Freeborn County had a quadruple fatality on its roads was more than two decades ago.

Unlike the crash on Wednesday, the one 21 years ago had local victims and took place on county roads.

In the early minutes of Sunday, Sept. 4, 1988, four people were pronounced dead at the site of a grisly collision at the corner of Freeborn County Roads 26 and 19. A car from 1986 and a Jeep from 1976 collided at about 12:30 a.m.

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The Albert Lea Tribune reported on the fatalies two days later. The Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office reported the victims as Rodney James Tuttle, 22, 1437 Frank Ave.; Ruth Ann Waldemar, 42, 615 1/2 Water St.; Patricia Ruth Storvick, 36, 1201 Gene Ave.; and Sharon Ann Tilton, 46, 901 18th St.

There were injured, too: Martie Alan Carlsgaard, 21, 302 E. Fifth St.; Thomas Edward Lawson, 23, 516 Railroad Ave.; and Mona Raye Akemann, 32, 506 Wayside Ave.

The Jeep was westbound on County 19, and the car was southbound on County 26. The sheriff’s preliminary investigation found that Jeep failed to yield the right of way at the stop sign.

Waldemar was the driver of the car, and Carlsgaard was suspected as the driver of the Jeep. In a trial, prosecutors alleged he had been driving without headlights, but he was found not guilty in a trial because though he owned the Jeep, prosecutors couldn’t prove he was behind the wheel.

Don Nolander was the Freeborn County sheriff at the time. Present-day Sheriff Mark Harig recalled working that night in a hard rain.

The newspaper stated it was the worst incident in the county since 1957, when five people were killed in a collision.

Harig’s records indicate the dead in 1957 were Ralph Beard, Ruth Beard, Mabel Larson, Waldo Shultz and Marilyn Torgeson.