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Vigil planned on anniversary of fatal accident

A student holds on to a bookmark bearing Lexi's picture.

Relatives of three family members killed in an auto accident last December will gather Sunday to mark the anniversary of the incident.

Alexis Iverson-Ferkuhl, an 8-year-old student at Meadowview Elementary School, was killed in the Dec, 12, 2009, accident along with her aunt, 34-year-old Debra Buhmann, and her grandmother, 71-year-old Shirley Iverson.

Family members will hold a vigil at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the site of the accident on County Road 50 near Ipava Avenue.

Iverson, Iverson-Ferkuhl and Buhmann were on their way home from Christmas shopping when a westbound driver, a 17-year-old in a pick-up truck, crossed over the centerline and hit their car. The teen, who pleaded guilty in May to careless driving, was sentenced to spend six weekends at the county's juvenile detention center and serve 100 hours of community service. He also lost his driver's license until he turns 19.

Buhmann and Iverson were both active at Farmington Lutheran Church. Buhmann taught Sunday school for third- and fourth graders and Iverson participated in a number of ways.

"She was here sometimes before the ushers even. She would be the first one through the doors," children's ministries director Maria Tarpinian said last December.

At Meadowview, Iverson-Ferkuhl's classmates planted a garden in her memory.

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom has used the accident to push for stricter penalties in cases where careless driving results in a fatality. The attorney's office presented the case to a grand jury for criminal vehicular homicide charges but the jury declined.

The maximum penalty for careless driving is 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Since 2007 Backstrom has introduced legislation that would increase those penalties to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine for cases that involve a fatality.

At Sunday's vigil family members plan to thank Backstrom for seeking stiffer penalties.

In a statement, family members also thanked the community for their support following the accident.

The public is invited to attend the vigil. Parking will be available at Cross Nursery or on side streets.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606