Friends and neighbors of the Earl and RaeAnn Arneson family of rural Decorah are doing what they can to help them following the terrible crash on snow-covered County Road W40 on Monday that claimed the lives of two of their children.
Avery Arneson, 17, and her sister Aiden, 13, died at the scene of the crash south of Hesper. Avery had been driving the family's 1999 Oldsmobile Alero; riding in the car were her sister and three brothers. They were on their way to class at Mabel-Canton Schools.
The Iowa State Patrol said the Arneson car was heading north on County Road W40 about 7:51 a.m. when it went out of control, crossing the center line and sliding sideways into the path of an oncoming Ford F150 Supercrew pickup driven by Gage Dahlberg, 15, of Decorah. Dahlberg was not seriously injured.
The three Arneson boys were taken to two area hospitals in Decorah and La Crosse. Alex Arneson, 14, was airlifted on Monday by EMS Air to Gundersen Medical Center in La Crosse where he was listed Wednesday in fair condition. Jack Arneson, 15 and James Arneson, 14, were taken by EMS Ambulance to Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah. A friend said that both boys had been treated and had been released by the end of the day on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the hospital confirmed late Wednesday that neither boy was still a patient there.
A friend of the family set up a GoFundMe page called "Arneson Family Fund" to help them with funeral and medical expenses.
"As many of you have heard, Avery and Aiden Arneson were both lost in a fatal car accident February 5th on their way to school," writes Allie Schlader. "Avery and Aiden’s brothers, Jack, James, and Alex were also involved in the accident and all three were sent to the hospital for treatment of their injuries. Many people have reached out to the Arneson family asking how they can help Earl and RaeAnn during such an unimaginably difficult time. Their family has decided to create a GoFundMe page to help support their funeral and medical expenses. Please take the time to consider making a donation and continue to keep them all in your prayers."
Many people not only made contributions but also offered words of encouragement.
"Earl, RaeAnn and family, words cannot express the sorrow we feel for you. We are so very sorry for your loss and praying for healing for the boys. You are being lifted up in prayers. God is good and will give you strength." --JE
"I have no words that can truly help you... Just know there are people who love you and those of us who don’t know you; we are all praying for you and thinking of you. My heartfelt condolences to you all." --NK
"Only God knows the reason why - may He grant you and your family the strength to try to understand. Hearts are breaking for you and your family all over northeast Iowa" --JH
"Prayers and strength from us to the Arneson family and its many friends. We were pretty much lifelong residents of SE MN until moving north a few years ago. To us our little corner of the state isn't the town of residence but the area where we all care deeply for one another. Love and comfort from ALL your friends." --GG
"I am so sorry for your devastating loss. My niece, Janet Falck had most of your children in her class, and mentioned that you are such a great family. I know that it does not help now, but I can promise you that the girls will live forever in your hearts and memories." --JTH
"I’m incredibly devastated by the news and loss of your loved ones. Praying for strength, peace, and comfort in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Many hugs and prayers coming your way from Texas." -JS
As of noon on Thursday, more than $47,800 has been raised to help the family.