Boul­der tum­bles off truck, kills mother, daugh­ter in car

Austin American-Statesman - - NATION & WORLD - By Kyle Swen­son Wash­ing­ton Post Wash­ing­ton Post

The truck smacked over the rail­road cross­ing and ev­ery­thing went hor­ri­bly wrong.

It was last Mon­day around 4:50 p.m. on a ru­ral stretch of Rich Val­ley Boule­vard in Rose­mount, Min­nesota, out­side of Min­neapo­lis. As the ve­hi­cle’s tires bounced on the tracks, the im­pact jos­tled a huge boul­der — with an es­ti­mated weight of re­port­edly 800 pounds — free from the bed. The mas­sive rock jumped from the truck, banged onto the road, and smashed into a 2002 Toy­ota Avalon like an ar­tillery shell, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease from the Rose­mount Po­lice De­part­ment.

The rock com­pletely tore through the car as it passed in the op­po­site di­rec­tion, rip­ping off the Avalon’s roof and killing the driver and pas­sen­ger, WCCO re­ported. Six­ty­seven-year-old Karen J. Chris­tiansen and her daugh­ter Jena H. Chris­tiansen, 32, were de­clared dead at the scene when au­thor­i­ties ar­rived. It took four fire­fight­ers to move the boul­der from the ac­ci­dent site.

Ac­cord­ing to Rose­mount Po­lice Chief Mitchell Scott, it ap­peared the rock had not been prop­erly se­cured on the truck. “What’s sad about this is it could have been pre­vented,” Scott told WCCO. But au­thor­i­ties also ini­tially did not know who was re­spon­si­ble — fol­low­ing the ac­ci­dent on Mon­day, the truck fled.

It would take three days for po­lice to fi­nally track down and ar­rest the al­leged driver, Joe P. Czeck. In­ves­ti­ga­tors were led to the sus­pect by pho­to­graphs snapped of the truck be­fore the Chris­tiansens were killed.

“By hav­ing that photo we were able to do our good old po­lice work,” Scott told ABC News.

Czeck is sched­uled to make his first court ap­pear­ance on Fri­day. Charges are still pend­ing in the case, and the sus­pect does not yet have an at­tor­ney listed in court records.

“You’re re­quired by law to have what­ever you are haul­ing se­cured in your ve­hi­cle,” Scott told WCCO. “So if you have a lawn mower or an ATV, UTV in­side, you are re­spon­si­ble to make sure it’s se­cure.”

Karen Chris­tiansen was re­tired from a po­si­tion as a train­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive at Dakota County Tech­ni­cal Col­lege, where she helped match stu­dents with job train­ing and com­pa­nies with po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees. “She was a very sweet per­son and such a hard worker,” Mar­lon Teal, a for­mer co-worker, told the Star Tri­bune. “She was so pa­tient with stu­dents and helped a lot of peo­ple.”

Daugh­ter Jena worked as a man­ager at a num­ber of Red Lob­ster lo­ca­tions.

On Mon­day, af­ter her shift, Jena picked her mother up from a lunch date with friends. The el­der Chris­tiansen got be­hind the wheel and the two drove off. Through­out the day, Jena was tex­ting with her boyfriend, Ryan Kilian, the Tri­bune re­ported. The mes­sages abruptly stopped around 5 p.m.

“She is the most amaz­ing per­son I have ever met,” Kilian said in a state­ment re­leased Wed­nes­day night, WCCO re­ported. “She was so smart and beau­ti­ful. She made me the man I am to­day I would be noth­ing with­out her. She would do any­thing for any­one who needed help she loved her fam­ily so much she had an amaz­ing sense of hu­mor. I lit­er­ally have spent hours just talk­ing to her. We had a con­nec­tion like no other. My heart is bro­ken, the world has lost an an­gel.”

Af­ter the boul­der’s im­pact, po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors pulled cam­era footage from the roads near the crash site, the Pi­o­neer Press re­ported. Im­ages came back of a 1999 Ster­ling Ac­terra haul­ing large boul­ders in the vicin­ity of the ac­ci­dent. Al­though the truck’s sid­ing was marked with a com­pany logo, the pictures were too blurry to dis­cern the in­signia. In­stead, in­ves­ti­ga­tors vis­ited nearby con­struc­tion sites.

At one location wit­nesses iden­ti­fied the truck as be­long­ing to a land­scap­ing com­pany called Czeck Ser­vices. The same ve­hi­cle had been al­legedly at the site pick­ing up large rocks on Mon­day.

The com­pany’s owner, Czeck, was ar­rested on Wed­nes­day. Ac­cord­ing to Rose­mount Po­lice, Czeck de­clined to speak to au­thor­i­ties af­ter his ar­rest.

“OK I know it was an ac­ci­dent but he didn’t just ruin two lives,” Kilian said in his state­ment. “Her fa­ther’s life, my life, her broth­ers, she lit­er­ally was a huge part of Red Lob­ster. She was the gen­eral man­ager of many lo­ca­tions. All of her em­ploy­ees loved her. 3 red lob­ster lo­ca­tions are tak­ing a day for the loss of a fam­ily mem­ber. She was with the com­pany for over 15 years.”

Thirty years ago, Mar­garet Kuya made a costly in­vest­ment that she hoped would pay off for her new­born daugh­ter: She bought her­self a bet­ter job.

“To get a job in Kenya, it is not about be­ing smart or hard-work­ing. We say, ‘You have to know some­one,’” Kuya said re­cently at her home in Nairobi.

Her fam­ily is by no means wealthy or well-con­nected, but back then, she knew some­one who knew some­one else. She gave most of her mea­ger sav­ings to a mid­dle­man and went from be­ing a maid to cook­ing in a school cafe­te­ria — one small rung up on so­ci­ety’s lad­der.

On the eve of her re­tire­ment from that job, Kuya makes about $200 a month. Diana Kuya, her daugh­ter, is now al­most 30. Mar­garet has paid out thou­sands of dol­lars — years’ worth of scrupu­lously saved pay­checks — to try to se­cure Diana a job that’s at least one rung higher on the lad­der.

But those dreams have been stolen. Each mid­dle­man has run away with her money.

Diana is an un­paid in­tern, one of hun­dreds of thou­sands of ed­u­cated young Kenyans with­out jobs.

A sense that per­va­sive cor­rup­tion is sti­fling young Kenyans’ fu­tures has been building for years, like pres­sure in a sealed, heated cham­ber. And Kenya’s lead­ers — them­selves long ac­cused of cor­rup­tion — seem fi­nally to have rec­og­nized the po­ten­tial po­lit­i­cal cost of not ad­dress­ing it.

As cor­rup­tion con­tin­ues to fac­tor into al­most all eco­nomic trans­ac­tions here, the clamor for change keeps grow­ing.

“The elite cor­rup­tion in this coun­try is car­ried out with in­creas­ing im­punity and brazen­ness. A bil­lion shillings is the new million,” said Ed­ward Ouko, Kenya’s au­di­tor gen­eral, in an in­ter­view in his 12th-floor Nairobi of­fice. “Or­di­nary folks have to ride with the tide.”

Kenya’s for­mer anti-cor­rup­tion com­mis­sion chair­man es­ti­mated two years ago that the coun­try loses a third of its state bud­get to cor­rup­tion — al­most $6 bil­lion an­nu­ally.

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