SCORES: High School Football Championships

Pella Shines a Guiding Light on Darkness after Walmart Crash Kills Three

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

 

 

PELLA, Iowa — “This hits home. These were co-workers. These were friends, those people I cared about.”  Thursday began with death and darkness. Don French, a Pella Walmart employee of nearly five years was still in shock. “I’m trying to look for silver linings right now.”

On Friday, came a guiding light.   “This is something I can’t handle alone. None of us can and thank God that we don’t have to,” said French.  Nearly one hundred and fifty people gathered at a makeshift memorial at the Pella Walmart to honor the deaths of three after a pickup truck barreled through the front doors. Among those whose lives were taken, Ruth Jean DeJong, a 76 year old from Pella who was shopping when the  pickup truck struck.  “We were shocked this morning it was Jean.  We were just really surprised. She’s just a sweet wonderful woman and luckily I feel she went quickly,” said friend Connie Isaac.

Another killed in the crash was 31 year old Pella Walmart employee Carrie Zugg.  “She had a great sense of humor i could always count on anytime I had a conversation with her i was going to come out smiling,” said French.  The third, 29 year old Pella Walmart employee Lindsey Rietveld. “She really impressed me with a genuine caring and friendliness the kind of thing you can tell is not a fake thing. you know she’s the real deal,” said French.

One of the injured included Ruth Jean Dejong’s husband, 77 year-old Robert DeJong. “He’s got a broken ankle to be fixed in the hospital,” said Isaac.  The driver, 66 year old Dennis Mockenhaupt of Knoxville was treated and released from hospital care.  French said, “It’s been a very sad, very emotional 24 hours.”  A tragedy that has broken many hearts, “We’re going to miss you so much. we love you,”said the crowd of mourners. But not their spirit and hope for a better tomorrow as they all yelled, “Pella Strong, Pella Strong.”