JORDAN, Minn. (WCCO) — In all her years working the emergency room, nurse practitioner Mary Mackenburg-Mohn had never seen anything like the trauma that lay before her. She and fellow nurse, Marsha Moreen, were on their way back to the Twin Cities when they came upon the crash 70 miles southwest of Kansas City.
“It was devastating, debris was everywhere and people were scattered around,” Mary recalled.
Little did they know that the victims they would be helping until emergency responders could arrive were members of a large Jordan, Minn. family. Pauline Kerber and her children were among the 18 people riding in their converted motorhome when it rolled down the embankment and was shredded apart.
“I work in a hospital where the patients arrive to me and someone else has done the difficult part on that scene,” said Mackenburg-Mohn.
The Kerber family, along with some friends, was returning home after a motocross and ATV vacation in Texas. Adam Kerber, 17, a promising motocross racer was driving the vehicle, when the RV hit a guardrail and careened down the hill.
Among the five persons killed were his older brother, Thomas, and his 24-year-old wife, Melissa Kerber. For the past two years, Melissa Kerber worked as a nursing assistant at the Valleyview Assisted Living Center, just northwest of Jordan.
“It’s very shocking, very sad. It’s just such a loss of such a very great worker,” said the center’s director, Alaina Gast.
The sadness is seen on the faces of co-workers like Angie Sink, who was close to Melissa and trained her for the job. Two other family members, Tina and Emily Kerber also work at the center, but were not along on the trip.
“The pictures just keep flying in your head from the news and it’s amazing anyone walked away from it. Thank God some of them did,” said Gast.
It’s a feeling everyone in this city of 5,500 residents is expressing, from the local bank where a benefit fund has been set up to the downtown streets.
There’s just a deep and terrible sadness for the loss of five beloved friends, balanced only by the gratitude felt for the motorists and first responders who helped a family in need.
“That’s not heroic, that’s just being human,” said Mackenburg-Mohn.