CHETEK (WQOW) – In the past two weeks, the communities of Chetek and Cameron have dealt with heartache not once, but twice. So as those lost in the armed forces are remembered on Memorial Day, the sting of recent tragedy remains fresh.
For the two cities separated by less than ten miles, heartbreak lingers into the holiday weekend.
It has been a real trying time for us,” said Chetek native John Flor. “This community does not need anymore tragedy.”
Tragedy is the word locals continue to use, after Chetek and Cameron were literally turned upside down two weeks ago
“When the tornado came through, you had students, teachers, football team, all kinds of community members getting out, grabbing chainsaws, grabbing their truck and going out and helping their neighbors, people they didn't even know,” Flor said.
Little did they know, what would come next.
A plane crash took the life of one of the community's shining stars. The pilot, 17-year-old Owen Knutson was killed and his passenger, 18-year-old Hunter Gillett, seriously hurt.
“The support we have gotten from other area communities is phenomenal, and with the tragedy of the plane crash that were a lot of people that came together for that,” said Janene Haselhuhn of Chetek.
People in Chetek said it is some of the youngest who have been the brightest rays of light and hope, even in the darkest days of losing a teammate, classmate and friend.
“We are one big family,” said Emma Haselhuhn. “We come together when things are hard, and we have been tested through these few days and we came together as one big family.”
So, on a day of remembrance of those gone too soon, the bond of a community grows tighter.
“We are a small, close knit, loving community, and we will stay that way through thick and thin,” Flor said. “I think that is the real message of what has happened the last two weeks. Chetek has been tested, and Chetek has pulled through.”