Tragedy…in less than six degrees

Storm clouds over our house.

Storm clouds over our house.

Storm clouds on June 20, 2013.

Storm clouds on June 20, 2013.


There is this belief that there are only six degrees of separation between any two people in the world. Well, in the Dakotas the degrees are considerably less at any given time. Today was one of them. My sister Melissa called to say their best friend lost his brother in a drowning accident.

There was massive rain last night in the south-eastern part of North Dakota. Jim, who was the victim, worked in Gwinner at the Bob Cat plant. James’ youngest sister’s husband, Curt, also works there. Curt and Jim both live in Lisbon and commute to Gwinner. They both went through the water to get to work, and when the rain got so bad that water was coming into the plant, so they were all told to go home.

According to James’ sister Noreen, there were nearly 30 vehicles that went through the water safely, but when Jim went to drive through the same place, his pickup went off the road, and even though he called for help and even though the rescue workers tried everything including trying to get onto the back up the pickup and breaking out the window, they couldn’t save him. One never knows, one just never knows.

In light of what has happened today, and memories of another water accident that happened many, many years ago in the same section of the state. It was a mother and daughter pulling a horse trailer with two horses. They were coming down a hill and the culvert at the bottom was washed out. The authorities thought they died on impact. The girl who died was talented in everything she did. They placed The Dance at their funeral, only the recording wasn’t from Garth Brooks, it was from the girl who passed away.

Thinking of Jim passing away today, and remembering Monica and her mother, I think the song of the day will have to be, “In the arms of the angels, far away from here….” by Sarah McLaughlin. At the beginning of this, I brought up the idea of degrees of separation. If we had just heard about this story on the nightly news, we would have known that it was a worker at the Gwinner plant, and we would have connected to it through family or acquaintances who work there. This would have at the most been three steps. As it was we connected through Jim’s brother, who we know because of his friendship with my brother-in-law. If that wouldn’t have been an issue, we would have known Jim’s brother because I worked at the paper and my boss was friends with his boss. It just doesn’t disconnect around here, and I don’t think that it was any closer or further in the days of the frontier. It has just always been like that around here. I guess that is why we put up with the long miles, high gas prices, cable that doesn’t get put in quite as fast as we would like, and road construction that tears up one whole side of town.

At our house today we sorted and threw away and put away as much as we could. I did some laundry and everyone pitched in pretty well. We sorted the computer room and some of the kitchen. It felt good to take out three loads of garbage and at least two large empty boxes. We did have a bad scare when Jaxon took a tumble down the steps. I was outside hanging up laundry, and when I came inside, he was on the floor with Paulina and Victoria checking him over. He has a bruise on his face as he went end over end on the way down, but he is up and about right now. They aren’t’ real sure if it was a slip on his part or if he was trying to jump. We did catch him a couple of times earlier when he was trying to jump on the last few steps thinking it was cute. He is such a dare-devil that it scares me. I am guessing either way, he will be much more careful on the stairs. His last few trips up or down he has been asking for help, thank goodness.

On another note, there was a terrible hail storm in Linton tonight. Many houses have broken windows, cars had windows knocked out, and I can’t imagine what the shingles look like. The local news showed pictures of hail stones beside eggs and golf balls and they were all the same sizes. Wow. I am pretty glad that we have moved ourselves out of there. We were afraid that some of it would be headed our way so we put the caps back on the tomatoes and peppers as best as we could. Actually, I don’t even think that we got any rain. Oh well. Here are a couple of shots of the clouds tonight.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Melissa
    Jun 20, 2013 @ 23:32:08

    Not only was he Bruce’s best friend’s brother, he is related to the Nolz family that lived in Herreid..I used to like going into the Perman Store because Elsie would always make such a fuss over me.

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