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PR-B community grieves for kindergartner -Top stories of 2010

The death of 6-year-old Evan Lindquist in March deeply touched many in the Pine

It was a tragedy that not only deeply affected the Pine River-Backus School District, but also the entire community.

Evan Lindquist, a 6-year-old kindergarten student at Pine River-Backus Elementary School, was struck and killed March 22 by his school bus after the boy had gotten off the bus in front of his home. 

Counselors and clergy from the community were on hand at the school the following day, moving between the bus garage, the elementary, middle and high schools and the alternative learning center. Evan’s mother, Melanie, is a teacher in the high school and was on maternity leave when the accident occurred. 

“It’s been hard,” Garney Gaffey, PR-B School Board chair said in March following Evan’s death. “I don’t know of too many people who wouldn’t tell that life sucks right now. That’s not very poetic but it is. We’re a really close family in this district and the community, too. It’s kind of hit everybody like a ton of bricks. Things like this don’t make sense to you — a little guy like Evan being taken like that. We’re just trying to rally around Erik and Melanie (Lindquist) and love them as much as we can and help them through this.”

Evan loved being outside, whether it was playing ice hockey on their frozen river, hiking around the woods tapping maple trees for homemade syrup, fishing, swimming, canoeing or simply running, according to his family. 

In September the school district dedicated a memorial garden at the school to remember those who are gone, including Evan. The garden includes a four-foot waterfall and a seven-foot by 12-foot stream. 

Westal Maine, Lindquist’s bus driver, pleaded guilty in Cass County District Court in August to a misdemeanor charge of moving a school bus without ensuring the child was out of the way. Maine resigned from the district following the accident. 

Cass County Attorney Christopher Strandlie said following Maine’s sentencing that the Lindquist family was aware of how difficult the accident has been on Maine and they know it wasn’t an intentional act. 

“Both the family and the offender have strong Christian faiths and I think that’s helping them work through this,” Strandlie said. 

JODIE TWEED may be reached at or 855-5858.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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