Herald JournalHoward Lake-Waverly Herald, Nov. 18, 2002

Howard Lake woman killed crossing Highway 12

By Lynda Jensen

A Howard Lake woman is dead after she attempted to cross Highway 12 Nov. 9.

Rhoda Jean Peterson-Shealy, 55, of Howard Lake, was walking southbound in the crosswalk located in front of the Old Town Gallery, when she was struck by a 1991 Chevrolet Suburban driven by Peter Todd Stevenson, 15, of Bloomington.

The youthful driver had a legal permit and was sitting beside his father, Todd Stevenson, 46, of Bloomington. They were towing a boat, according to the accident report.

Peterson-Shealy died enroute to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale.

"It was dark," commented Kathy Main, who was two cars behind the Stevensons when the accident occurred.

Main was directly behind the Stevensons when they first came into town from Annandale, southbound on Wright County Road 6, she said.

"He was driving just as well as anyone could," Main said of Peter Stevenson.

The Stevensons turned eastbound onto Highway 12.

The Stevensons' signals and lights on both the SUV and trailer were working and engaged, Main said.

By the time she also turned left onto the highway, the accident had already happened, Main said.

"People were waving their arms and trying to stop traffic," she said.

Main parked and attempted to offer assistance ­ not knowing what the situation was yet, she said.

At first she couldn't distinguish the figure lying on the road, Main said. However, she got close enough to see Peterson-Shealy laying face down two or three feet from the sidewalk by the old Werner hardware building location.

Peterson-Shealy was wearing dark pants, a dark navy or black top, and a dark cap, Main said. "There was no reason anyone would have seen her," she said.

"The father was sitting on the sidewalk, with his son wrapped in both of his arms," Main said of the Stevensons.

Peterson-Shealy was walking in the west crosswalk when she was thrown near the east crosswalk, according to State Trooper John Derichs.

This intersection is near the apartment where Peterson-Shealy lives, above the Piece Makers Quilt Shop at Highway 12.

Immediately, four members of the Howard Lake ambulance crew responded to the scene, said Fire and Ambulance Chief Tom Diers.

An additional five local people from the fire department responded as well, Diers said.

"The response was phenomenal," he said of the emergency crews.

These people worked by the numbers as a team, and did everything they could for Peterson-Shealy, but her massive injuries were just too much, Diers said.

In fact, Peterson-Shealy had the advantage of having a helicopter coincidentally stationed at Monticello, rather than the Twin Cities, where it normally would be, he said.

Local ambulance crewmen stabilized Peterson-Shealy, and called for the advanced life support ambulance, which is stationed in Buffalo, or about a 15-minute trip, Diers said.

The helicopter also responded, being only five minutes flight away, rather than 15 from the metro area, Diers said.

The advanced life support team continued to respond, in case the helicopter had problems landing, or something went wrong, Diers said.

Ambulance members prepared Peterson-Shealy for the trip, checking the extent of her injuries, and placing her on a backboard.

The helicopter touched down at the Dura Supreme parking lot, which is the favored location at night for helicopter pickups of this nature, Diers said.

Two other locations are sometimes used, Memorial Park and Yaeger field. Occasionally, the helicopter will land in fields if there is a accident outside of town.

Since Peterson-Shealy was so gravely injured, the helicopter paused only briefly to pick her up before taking off.

In fact, the helicopter blades didn't even slow down, Main said.

However, Peterson-Shealy died enroute to the hospital. "She had massive trauma," Diers said. "Even if a team of surgeons had been standing there, it wouldn't have helped her."

Main blamed the accident on what she said was poor lighting given by the new light poles erected last summer during the Highway 12 construction.

"They may look pretty," Main said of the new lights. "But they are functionally useless."

"It's a shame," Main said. "It's just going to happen again."

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