Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Nov. 13, 2000

Accident spoils commissioner's re-election

By John Holler

Election night was supposed to be a happy occasion for Commissioner Ken Jude and his family.

After all, he won re-election by taking all but one of his District 1 cities and townships. Like many of us, Jude was up late into the night Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. However, it was for very different reasons than following election results.

Jude's wife, Myrna, and pregnant daughter, Dana Kettleson, were involved in a rollover accident in the family's van that left both with broken bones and the potential for far worse injuries. At that point, winning or losing the election meant nothing to Jude.

"I couldn't have cared less if I won or lost, to be honest," Jude said. "My wife and my daughter and her baby are my world. I was concerned I was going to lose all three of them. The election didn't mean much to me at that point."

Jude's wife and daughter got in the accident just a mile from their home near Annandale. Myrna Jude was driving on Hwy. 24 about a half-mile west of Co. Rd. 6 in snowy, slushy conditions - returning from voting with daughter, Dana.

As is her custom when weather is poor, she was driving slowly. Another driver was stuck behind the Jude van and, when they both had come over a hill on Hwy. 24, the other car attempted to pass the Jude vehicle. It skidded on the slush and hit Jude's van, sending it out of control and rolling over in the ditch.

While the other driver was uninjured, the extent of the injuries to both occupants of the Jude vehicle was extensive.

Myrna Jude suffered a broken left arm that required a bone graft from her hip to repair, as well as the insertion of a metal plate to keep the bone in place. In addition, she ripped the anterior cruciate ligament and tore the medial collateral ligament of her left knee, which will likely keep her off of her feet for several months.

Kettleson, meanwhile, suffered extensive facial injuries after being thrown from the vehicle. In addition to facial fractures and a chipped shoulder blade, she suffered a gash that included her eyelid and that could very easily have taken one of her eyes.

Kettleson, who is due to have her baby Nov. 20, told Jude the baby came through the accident unharmed, as far as they can tell.

"I just think an angel took care of them," Jude said. "They very easily could have all died in this accident. They're banged up pretty bad and will need some time to heal, but they're alive and that's what counts. The emergency response people and fire department personnel were all excellent and I would like to wish them my heartfelt thanks."

The accident occurred about 5:30 p.m. on election day, just as Jude was leaving to retrieve some of his campaign signs. His wife had left her cellular phone with him in the event of an emergency and a motorist who came up on the accident scene called him as he was preparing to leave.

"When I was going, I heard the sirens and, right after that, I heard Myrna's cell phone go off and was told she had been in a pretty serious accident," Jude said. "A couple of minutes later and I would have been gone."

Myrna Jude was taken to Buffalo Hospital, where she underwent the bone graft surgery to repair her arm. Kettleson was transferred to North Memorial Hospital, Robbinsdale, for potential plastic surgery, as well as monitoring her unborn baby.

The incident has left Jude shaken, but thankful that all three family members are still alive and, apparently, will recover from their injuries. In the long run, the accident made his hard-fought campaign a moot issue.

"It put everything in perspective for me," Jude said. "My family is more important than any election. I'm happy that I won, but it really pales in comparison to what has happened."

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