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JAMESTOWN â As Shar Bernsâ husband looked her in the eyes and told her that her best friend, a woman she had come to love in the past eight years, was dead, Berns could hardly muster a response.
âWe were supposed to have lunch next Thursday. It just, it just doesnât seem real,â she said.
Her friend, Allison Deutscher, 36, along with her husband Aaron, 34, and 18-month-old daughter Brielle, of West Fargo, were killed Friday evening in a head-on collision on Interstate 94 west of Jamestown.
The family was on their way to a weekend at Aaronâs parentsâ house in Bismarck when their 2009 Subaru Forester was struck by a pickup heading the wrong direction in the westbound lane.
The accident occurred at 7:18 p.m. at mile marker 225 of I-94, about 33 miles west of Jamestown, according to the report from North Dakota State Patrol Sgt. Tom Herzig.
The driver of the 1994 Chevrolet pickup, 28-year-old Wyatt Klein of Jamestown, also was killed in the accident.
Herzig said alcohol was a factor in the accident, as authorities smelled alcohol on Klein and in his pickup.
This is a fact Lynn Mickelson, Allison Deutscherâs father, is furious about. He said when the patrol officer told him alcohol had been a factor, the thought made him sick to his stomach.
For the three people he âloved to deathâ to be taken away so abruptly, Mickelson said when the patrol officer first came to his door Friday evening, it was like a dream.
âShock, pure shock. I didnât think what I was hearing was real,â he said. âI kept thinkinâ ânot my Allie, they couldnât be talking about my Allie.ââ
The accident remains under investigation by the Highway Patrol.
To make matters more heart-breaking for their families, Mickelson said his daughter was 3 1/2 months pregnant.
Eric Mickelson, Allison Deutscherâs brother, described his sister as the âfriendly, outgoing, energetic person everyone wanted to be around.â He said he still has yet to come to terms with the fact that sheâs gone, but it will be the little things he shared with her that he will miss the most. That, and not being able to see Brielle grow up.
âWhen she was in high school she took Spanish, which I never did, and the one word she taught me was hola,â he said. âAnd even twenty-some years later, when I would talk to her on the phone the first thing we would say to each other was hola.â
Aaronâs father, Tom Deutscher, overcome with grief, said it was too difficult to talk about his son, but that he loved Aaron, Allison and Brielle with all his heart.
Friends of the family are also reeling from the loss. Tiffany Bolgrean knew Allison for 15 years, when they both started working together at The Forum.
âShe left a little sticky note on my desk when I first started that said âweâre meeting at Rooterâs for drinks at 5:01,ââ she said with a laugh and then stifled sob. âWe were friends ever since, and you honestly couldnât ask for a more spirited, drop-whatever-sheâs-doing-to-help-ya kind of friend.â
Berns also met Allison Deutscher through The Forum, where she worked for over a decade in advertising before she began her job at Clinical Supplies Management, Inc. last January. Aaron Deutscher worked for Phoenix International in information technology.
Berns described Aaron and Allison Deutscher as opposites that attracted to each other. He was the quiet one compared to his wife who loved attending as many concerts as she could. But Bernes said Aaron was a genuine person and an incredible father.
âSeeing the way he changed when Brielle was born, he worked very hard at being the best dad he could be,â she said.
Through the tears, the questions, and the grief, one âshining lightâ from this tragedy, said Lynn Mickelson, was the call he received from the Lions Eye Bank of North Dakota, alerting him that more people can now see because his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter were organ donors.
âI look at Brielleâs picture, and I think how those pretty blue eyes are now someplace else. Those pretty blue eyes are still around,â he said.
Megan Card is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.