In June of 1988, a 39-year-old man was killed when he was blown out of the back of a vehicle traveling just north of Perham. An article by Chuck Johnson appeared on the front page of the June 16, 1988 Enterprise Bulletin.
Thomas Yelton, from Remington, Ind., was in the back of the 1972 El Camino, which he and his fiance, Diane Mostoe of Frazee, were using to move furniture. According to a spokesperson from the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s office, the man had apparently been lying on a mattress to hold it down when a gust of wind blew the mattress and him out of the vehicle.
The Perham Rescue Squad responded to the accident, which occurred about four miles north of Perham, but Yelton was dead at the scene. He had struck his head when he hit the ground.
A copy of the article describing this tragic accident was one of the last requests I received while still director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County. But the story surrounding this tragedy didn’t end there. When I called to let the person who had requested the article know that it had been found, she told me the rest of the story.
Apparently, over the years some people had been spreading the rumor that Yelton’s fiance, who now lives in Arizona, had killed him. These rumors had made life miserable for the poor woman and her daughters. Her friend finally decided to try to get the facts. This good Samaritan, who I hesitate to name without her permission, finally found her way to the History Museum of East Otter Tail County and made her request.
When I spoke with her the other day, she was effusive in her gratitude, saying this would make a tremendous difference in the life of her friend. Grateful praise should go to this unknown friend who went to the effort to discover the real story behind the gossip.
And gratefulness should also go to the unsung heroes everywhere who do all they can to preserve the past and the truth it contains. History saves lives.
Lina Belar is the former executive director of the Friends of the History Museum of East Otter Tail County and a pioneer in making local historical resources available online. For more stories, visit www.HistoryMuseumEOT.org.