Tags: Featured Feature story
December 11, 2012 | 03:55 PMIt was a stunning act — someone stealing a cross commemorating Carter Dorwin's death.
Followed by an equally stunning second act — volunteers coming forward to build a new one.
Nine-year-old Carter of Lake Como died when a reckless driver ended his life on Nov. 16, 2010. The accident occurred on Highway H near the Como Flats, just north of Lake Geneva. In honor of Carter, a metal cross was erected near the accident site.
This year, during the anniversary week of that horrific event, orange balloons were placed on the new cross (orange was Carter's favorite color).
Shortly after those balloons were placed, someone stole the cross.
That's when Frank Guske Jr. entered the picture. Guske is a local Boy Scout leader and the Scouts help keep the area around the cross clear of weeds.
He also volunteers at a local homeless shelter, which is near where the accident occurred.
Guske wrote a letter to the Regional News volunteering to the pay the person who stole the cross $100 if it was returned. Because of his connection to the shelter, he figured the thief might have been desperate and might have wanted to sell the cross for scrap.
"I can't imagine how bad things could get in one's life to take something so sacred, but I do work at the food pantry one block away from the site and I do see just how bad things are first hand," Guske wrote. "I have stared into the face of desperation more than I care to admit."
So the $100 offer came with no strings attached. Guske offered to keep the culprit's name anonymous and not press charges.
No one came forward, but there was a silver lining.
In response to Guske's letter, Dan Gritzner of Geneva Lakes Sign Worx, Brian Le Beau of Lake Geneva Wood Works and Bob Benedict of B&B Tile and Marble Co. offered to design, build, pay for and install a new cross.
Guske wrote another letter with the details (see 1D of this week's edition).
"What at first appeared to be an act of desperation has, as always, turned into a motivational incident," Guske wrote. "The removal of the cross has reminded us of our loss, reminded us of how precious and fragile life is, reminds us to pray for Carter's family and reminds us of how fortunate we all are."
The cross will be a commemoration of Carter's life and a dynamic reminder of the high cost of reckless driving.
In April, 2011, the man driving the car that day, Jeremy C. Dees, was given the maximum sentence after being found guilty of a felony charge of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle.
According to police reports, Dees was driving home to Elkhorn after attending church. He was driving at speeds estimated to be 80 mph and was in the wrong lane of traffic at the time of the accident.
Carter's mother, Nicole, was driving her son and other family members to school when the accident occurred. She tried evasive action to avoid being struck by Dee's vehicle, but it was to no avail.
When she looked in the back seat, where Carter sat, "I knew something really bad had happened," she testified.
And now, to commemorate that horrible day, something good has happened and the cross, at least, has been resurrected.