How to help ...
After the tragic loss of Jason and Teigen Richardson, community members and business are raising funds to help the family.
Some of those include:
■ GoFundMe: https://gofund.me/fb381d84, more than $56,000 raised as of Sept. 28
■ Blossom Boutique: Donating 10% of all profits from Grand Opening; collecting diapers, wipes, nonperishable and unopened food items, gift cards
■ Bussin’ Bakin’: Donating all tips from Saturday market
■ Jordan Lutheran Church: Open 2-7 p.m. for anyone to pray or make a donation to the Richardson family
■ Argyle volleyball: “Miracle Minute” during Oct. 5 game against Black Hawk, 6 p.m.
■ Pecatonica-Argyle football: “Miracle Minute” during Saturday, Oct. 7 Homecoming game in Argyle against Southwestern-East Dubuque
GRATIOT — The state line region is grieving this week after a tragic accident took the lives of a young father and his 3-year-old daughter.
Jason, 27, and Teigen, 3, died in a pickup vs. semi accident Sept. 26. The fatal accident that occurred just outside of Gratiot on Sept. 26 was just the most recent heartbreak the Richardson family has felt in 2023.
In March, Jason and wife, Leane Richardson, Monroe, unexpectedly lost their 3-month old son, Landon, to natural causes in his sleep. Not long after, Jason’s father died.
“In six short months my girls and I have gone through losing my baby Landon, my father-in-law Scott, and now we have to go through yet another huge horrific loss,” Leane wrote in a social media post Sept 27. “I know Jason is hugging Teigen and Landon and all I can think is I truly wish with all my heart that you were all down here with me instead.”
Months after Landon’s death, life had appeared to be heading in a new, more positive direction this summer. Leane became pregnant again with her fifth child, news the Richardsons shared to family and friends on social media on Monday, Sept. 25, receiving hundreds of reactions and congratulations.
The next day, Jason, Leane and 3-year-old daughter Teigen went to a funeral in Benton to mourn the loss of Carla Brink, Jason’s brother’s mother-in-law.
“A wonderful woman gone way to soon. Always had a smile on her face, one of the most genuinely kind people there is. My heart breaks for my sister in law and her family, she will be greatly missed,” Jason wrote in a memorial to Brink. “Hold your loved ones close.”
During their return trip home from the funeral just before 2 p.m., Jason, driving a 2016 Ford F-150, crossed the center line on Wis. 11 eastbound between Komprood Road and County KK in Lafayette County. The Ford, headed uphill on a curve, collided with a semi-truck going downhill.
The 2020 Freightliner Semi-truck and trailer was owned by Swift Transportation Company, and driven by Kaled Hussein Omar, 30, of Clarksville, Ind. Omar maneuvered to miss the Ford F-150 but was unable to avoid the collision.
The semi tractor and trailer struck the guardrail on the north side of Wis. 11 when attempting to avoid the F-150 before coming to a stop on the roadway. After striking the semi tractor and trailer, the F-150 struck and came to rest against the guardrail on the north side of Wis. 11.
The Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office was assisted on scene by Gratiot Fire and First Response, South Wayne Fire and First Response, Green County EMS, Paramount Ambulance Service, Warren (Ill.) EMS, Lafayette County Highway Department and Wisconsin State Patrol. Minutes after the initial emergency call to dispatch, the Lafayette County Coroner was called.
Jason and Teigen, who was sleeping in the back seat, died instantly, according to Leane.
“Unfortunately both my amazing, selfless husband, and my amazing, beautiful, smart, sassy baby Teigen passed away on impact,” Leane wrote in the social media post, visible to the public. “By some miracle, I survived this accident and I can only be thankful that my two older daughters were in school and not in the truck with us.”
Leane, 27, miraculously survived with only minor cuts and bruises. She was transported to the hospital by ambulance and later released. Her baby, due in February, is reportedly doing well.
Wis. 11 was closed down and detoured for approximately five hours during the investigation and cleanup of the crash. The investigation of the crash is ongoing with the assistance of the Wisconsin State Patrol Reconstruction Team.
It takes a village
News of the tragedy quickly spread throughout the community.
A GoFundMe was opened hours after the crash by a family member. Various businesses and organizations set up donation plans for the coming weeks as well, all with the hopes of giving what the community can to a family that has lost so much.
“With Angie’s (Miesen, grandmother) permission I have set up this go fund me to help the family with funeral expenses and medical bills that may come up. All money will go directly to Leane,” wrote Alli Simmons of Lancaster, organizer of the GoFundMe. “Jason was a wonderful dad and would do anything for his babies. As many know him and Leane lost their son ... and just announced they were expecting again. No family should have to endure this pain. Any little bit helps but this family had been through far to much.”
The GoFundMe had raised more than $60,000 as of Thursday evening, Sept. 28.
“What a community,” Rachel Lattin, a family friend wrote in awe in a Facebook post. “The original goal was $20,000 and that was reached in less than 10 hours and the goal was increased. Twenty hours later and they have raised over double their original goal. No amount of money will make up for what they are going through, but it will help relieve some burdens and any extra stress. Please keep sharing. Thank you.”
New business Blossom Boutique in Monroe pledged to donate 10% of all profits from its grand opening event on Oct. 8. They are also accepting donations of diapers and wipes, non-perishable food items, and gift cards.
“Anyone who knows Leane and her family, knows they would do the same for anyone else in need,” said Cierra Medinger, Blossom Boutique owner.
Leane was appreciative of all of the support.
“To everyone that has asked, yes food, toys, and company are welcome. Any help is greatly appreciated. Please keep the support coming,” Leane said. “To everyone that has reached out, I appreciate all of the support right now for our family, the girls and I will definitely need it. I cannot say thank you enough.”
Grieving, healing and reflection
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), research shows that most people can recover from loss on their own through the passage of time if they have social support and healthy habits. There is no “normal” time period for someone to grieve, and it may take months or a year to come to terms with a loss.
“When we lose a spouse, sibling or parent our grief can be particularly intense. Loss is understood as a natural part of life, but we can still be overcome by shock and confusion, leading to prolonged periods of sadness or depression,” the APA posted Jan. 1, 2020 in an online article titled ‘Grief: Coping with the loss of your loved one’. “The sadness typically diminishes in intensity as time passes, but grieving is an important process in order to overcome these feelings and continue to embrace the time you had with your loved one.”
The Lullaby Trust, a UK charity that advises and aids in bereavement, suggests those supporting the family to offer with practical matters, like telephoning, shopping, cooking or babysitting, but to mindful of not appearing overbearing or taking control of the situation.
“Give special attention to any other children in the family, especially if the parents are too distressed themselves to give them comfort or attend to their individual needs,” Lullaby Trusts suggests. “Be available to listen to the parents talk as much and as often as they wish about the baby or child who died. This can be helpful for them. It may be difficult for you to hear, so make sure you seek support for yourself if you think this would be helpful. Bereaved parents often want to talk about their child and be allowed to remember them. Talk freely about the special qualities of the child and do not avoid mentioning the subject.”
The day after the crash, Leane memorialized her husband and daughter, reflecting fondly of Jason and Teigen and their personal impact they made to her life.
“To my amazing husband. You were always my rock, pushing me to be the best I can be. You always said to stand up for myself, I deserve more. You’re love of cows will forever live on with the girls and I. I promise I will do everything I can to do right by you, to make you proud. I miss you beyond words,” Leane wrote. “To my baby Teigen, you will forever be with me. You’re smile will always be here. I’ll always hear your sassy laugh, You’re endless talks about your friends, you’re constant changing of clothes as a fashion show (always right after we put clothes away and leaving the newly hung clothes on the floor!)”
It is okay not to know what to say, and just being there for them is important, suggests the Lullaby Trust. The bereaved person will need their friends and family more than ever. Just being there for someone can be more important than spoken words.
Having recently been through the loss of one child already, Leane is again faced with the struggles associated with grieving and coping.
“After losing a sibling or your parents or anyone close to you nobody tells you that on a bright sunny day just driving down the road for no reason at all, tears will start to fill up in your eyes out of nowhere,” she shared just two days after the accident. “Nobody tells you that for minutes on end, your mind puts you back in that time and place of trauma and you feel it all over again. So much so that you have to literally snap yourself out of it, and shake it off and say to yourself ‘I’m ok.’
“... there is no time limit on grief. Check on your people,” Leane pleaded.