The Elmwood community is reeling after a tragic Memorial Day car crash in Barron County claimed the lives of two teens. A celebration of life will be held for Simon Loga, 13, and Payton Bleskacek, …
The Elmwood community is reeling after a tragic Memorial Day car crash in Barron County claimed the lives of two teens. A celebration of life will be held for Simon Loga, 13, and Payton Bleskacek, 14, from 3-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 14 at Elmwood High School gymnasium. Both boys just graduated eighth grade from Elmwood Middle School.
According to a news release from Barron County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to a two-vehicle crash at 5:52 p.m. Monday, May 29 on Highway 25 at County Road A north of Ridgeland between a vehicle driven by Brody Bleskacek, 17, Elmwood, and a van, driven by a 54-year-old Rice Lake man. The van was heading north on Highway 25, while the car was westbound on County Road A.
Brody Bleskacek was traveling with brother Payton Bleskacek, 14, and stepbrothers Simon Loga, 13 and Seth Loga, 17. Simon Loga died at the scene. An ambulance transported Brody Bleskacek to an area hospital with serious injuries; he has since been released. A helicopter flew Seth Loga to a hospital in Eau Claire, where he remains in serious condition. A second helicopter flew Payton Bleskacek to a Twin Cities hospital, where he died at 4:17 p.m. Friday, June 2 as a result of his injuries.
A 54-year-old passenger in the van, from Spooner, died at the scene. According to the news release, he was the father of several passengers in the van. A helicopter flew the driver to an area hospital with serious injuries. Van passengers ranged in age from 8-54. They were taken to area hospitals and treated for injuries ranging from minor to serious.
A deputy who assisted at the scene was treated and released at an area hospital for smoke inhalation. She stopped to help get people out of the van after it overturned in the ditch and caught fire. The car came to rest upright in a field. Highway 25 was closed for four hours after the accident, which elicited a large response from area agencies: Barron County Sheriff’s Office; ambulances from Marshfield Medical Center, Mayo, Cumberland, Chetek, Dallas, Colfax, Clear Lake and Boyceville; fire departments from Dallas and Ridgeland, Barron County First Responders, three Lifelink helicopters, North Memorial Helicopter, Wisconsin DNR, Dunn County Sheriff’s Department and Wisconsin State Patrol.
The crash remains under investigation by the Wisconsin State Patrol, who is reconstructing the crash scene. The Barron County Medical Examiner’s office is assisting.
The Elmwood football field was full Wednesday, May 31 for a prayer vigil in support of the Loga and Bleskacek families. Pastors Kyle Gunderson and Mitch Haaby from Cedarbrook Church, the Bleskaceks’ home church, led community members in prayer.
“Tonight we are here to honor and support the two families affected by this accident,” Gunderson said. “To show solidarity as a community.”
After reading the 23rd Psalm, Gunderson said he chose the text to bring perspective to the evening.
“As we sit in this valley tonight, it might feel like we’re in the shadow of death,” he said.
Haaby said there is no recipe or formula for handling grief. He spoke of the Bible book Lamentations, in which people cry out to God when life seems bitter, unfair and cruel. He encouraged people to turn to God even when they don’t want to, to complain because there is nothing people can’t say to God, to ask for what we want, and to trust that even when life is falling apart, that God will give people enough strength to make it the next day, the next day, and the next.
Prayer team members were available on the field as people filed from the bleachers to fill out four prayer boards, which will go to the families.
Brody Bleskacek graduated from Elmwood High School and Simon Loga and Payton Bleskacek graduated from eighth grade on May 19. Brody Bleskacek and Payton Bleskacek are the sons of Josh Bleskacek and Jessi Loga. Seth Loga and Simon Loga are the sons of Sam Loga and Naomi Hayes.
A fundraiser has been set up for the families to help with expenses at https://www.gofundme.com/f/bleskacek-and-loga-families