Mobridge residents remembered following highway accident

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A small South Dakota town has been hit hard by the deaths of two people who drove into a hole that appeared in a dark North Dakota highway after a flash flood washed through.

Jim Vanderwal, 65, and Trudy Peterson, 60, both of Mobridge, South Dakota, were retrieved Tuesday from the hole on the Standing Rock Reservation in Sioux County, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Mark Kaiser said his former colleague Peterson worked at the dialysis unit at the Indian Health Service in Fort Yates.

“She had a bubbly personality,” Kaiser said. “I’ll remember her laugh. She had a great, unique laugh.”

Peterson was a grandmother and the mother of three. Prior to her body being found, the news that she was missing traveled swiftly at the Mobridge hospital, said Dr. Travis Henderson.

“People were trying to do their job, but it was surreal, too,” he said.

The two deaths have affected the entire Mobridge community, but it particularly hurt the United Congregational Church, where Peterson and Vanderwal attended.

“It’s very noticeable,” said Misti Henderson, church secretary and Travis Henderson’s wife. “Every business I walk into, they’re talking about Trudy. And the fact that it’s two people, both from our church.”

Vanderwal’s sister, Cindy Fjeldheim, said he was a driver for a U.S. mail contractor who made the run between Bismarck and Mobridge six days a week.

“He was almost home,” Fjeldheim said.

Vanderwal was the father of four grown children, two boys and two girls, and had several grandchildren.