BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN Amidst the cold, frozen parking lot at Delano High School is a vacant parking spot.
The space previously occupied by Marleena Dieterich’s 2002 Acura sedan, as well as her locker, now features a tribute in memory of the senior who was killed on an icy stretch of Highway 12 east of Delano around 9 a.m. Saturday.
In addition to creating the memorials, seniors asked students and staff to wear purple, Dieterich’s favorite color.
Delano Public Schools released a statement to district parents that said, in part, “This has been a difficult week for many students and staff members, and measures have been taken to offer support during school days. Counselors, clergy, nurses, school social workers and administrators have gathered in a designated area to assist those who are grieving.”
Dieterich will be remembered during a visitation from 10 a.m.-noon Saturday, followed by a celebration of life at Bradshaw Celebration of Life Center in Stillwater.
In lieu of flowers, her family is requesting that donations be made to World Wildlife Fund, which Dieterich asked family members to support rather than purchasing Christmas gifts for her in recent years.
More about Dieterich will be featured in a future edition of the Delano Herald Journal, at the request of her family.
We offer our deepest condolences to the Dieterich family, and to all who had the good fortune to know and love Marleena.
According to the West Hennepin Public Safety Department, a vehicle driven by Dieterich, 18, of Delano, was eastbound near Lake Haughey Road when it lost control on the icy roads and crossed over the centerline and collided with a semi driven by Jesse Eugene Chase, 50, of Princeton.
Dieterich died at the scene. Chase was not injured.
Chase told officers he saw Dieterich’s car coming into his lane. He attempted to swerve out of the way, but was unable to avoid the crash. Witnesses at the scene stated they saw the car lose control and slide into the path of the oncoming semi.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to yet another family dealing with the loss of a loved one who was killed on Highway 12,” WHPSD Chief Gary Kroells said.
The Minnesota State Patrol is assisting the West Hennepin Public Safety Department with reconstruction of the crash.
Orono Police Department, the Minnetrista Police Department, the Three Rivers Park Police, The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Crime Lab, the Maple Plain and Delano fire departments, and Minnesota Department of Transportation also assisted at the scene.
The Highway 12 Safety Coalition discussed the crash and ways to improve the safety of the highway Thursday. See the March 15 edition of the Delano Herald Journal for coverage of that meeting.