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Almont reaching out to help grieving teen


Community steps up after teen loses both parents in tragic M-53 accident


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Imlay City Firefighters and emergency personnel rush to accident scene on M-53 that claimed the lives of an Almont couple on Saturday morning. photo by Randy Jorgensen.

January 30, 2008
ALMONT — Friends, schoolmates and counselors are offering emotional support to a teenage girl who lost both of her parents Saturday morning in a crash on M-53 and Hunters Creek Rd.

Elizabeth Godlewski, 15, is the only child of Andrzej Godlewski, 64, and Bernardyna Godlewski, 54, both of whom died in the collision.

Lapeer County Sheriff's deputies reported that Andrzej lost control of his northbound 1995 Pontiac van and entered the path of a southbound 1999 Ford pickup truck, driven by Thomas Romine of Imlay City.

Romine, 71, was transported to Hurley Medical Center in Flint with non-life threatening injuries.

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Lapeer County Sheriff's deputies reported that slushy, snowy road conditions likely contributed to the crash.

They said Andrzej lost control of his vehicle, turned sideways and crossed the center line, before being struck by the pickup truck. Deputies said speed and alcohol were not factors, although neither victim was wearing a seat belt.

Overwhelming support

The Godlewskis were Polish immigrants, but had lived in Almont for some time and had made many friends. Almont High School counselor Sue Carson said Elizabeth has grown up with many of her classmates. On Monday morning, the teen was back in school, where she was consoled and comforted by them and by school staff.

"Liz has a wonderful core group of friends who are helping her through this," said Carson. "She is getting a lot of love and support. She's a wonderful girl, and people are coming out of the woodwork to help her out."

Carson noted that Elizabeth's age is complicating matters for school staff, who are assisting the teen relative to insurance and Social Security benefits, funeral arrangements and other legal matters.

"We are trying to do everything very carefully to protect her interests," said Carson. "We don't want to compromise anything." She added that Elizabeth is currently staying with a "wonderful family whom she loves."

"We have an amazingly caring community here, and we've seen a remarkable show of support," said Carson.

Carson said Elizabeth has requested that funeral arrangements for her parents take place at Muir Brothers Funeral Home in Almont, although details are as yet incomplete.

Carson added that a special fund has been set up in Elizabeth's name at Tri-County Bank in Almont.

Those wishing to donate to the fund may mail to or drop off checks at Tri-County Bank, 45111 Van Dyke, Almont, MI 48003. Checks should be made out to Elizabeth Janina Godlewski.

"We want her to have access to some money if she needs something," said Carson.

Kim Ruhlig, owner of Oasis Hair Salon on M-53, said she and her staff at Oasis Hair Salon plan to donate a portion of their haircut earnings to Elizabeth during an open house on Feb. 12-14.

"Liz and her mother have been customers, and we want to be able to help," said Ruhlig. "On the 12th and 13th, our haircut money will go to Liz."

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