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Accident takes Clara City woman's life, leaves husband severely injured and students shocked

RENVILLE -- A crash in icy conditions Thursday took the life of a 27-year old woman, left a high school boys basketball team bruised and shocked, and severely injured the father of two boys. James Nonweiler, 30, of Clara City, is listed in critical condition at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.

His wife, Maria Nonweiler, 27, also of Clara City, was pronounced dead at the scene after the vehicle they were traveling in collided around 9:30 p.m. with a school bus transporting the Renville County West boys' basketball team.

Nonweiler's son Xaviar, who turned 3 on Thursday, was also in the vehicle. He suffered no injuries.

Four of the bus passengers were transported to Renville County Hospital in Olivia for treatment. Their injuries were not termed serious. Two were released Thursday and three of the four were at school Friday.

The crash occurred on Renville County Road 6 just south of the intersection with County Road 11.

The road was a "sheet of ice'' and there were six- and seven-inch snow drifts with whipping winds at the time of the crash, according to Jeff Wilson, Renville County West High School principal, who was among the first on scene.

Preliminary reports indicate Nonweiler may have lost control of his vehicle. It appears to have struck the front end of the southbound bus broadside. Despite the impact, bus driver Kenneth Ziesmer, 71, was able to keep the bus from sliding into a snow-filled ditch and rolling, RCW school officials said.

Ziesmer and basketball coach Rich Schrupp stayed on scene with approximately two dozen basketball players, grades 8 to 12. Wilson said most of the students were shell-shocked.

School officials made counselors available during the school day Friday, and met separately with the basketball team.

Ziesmer was driving his bus Friday.

Nonweiler, an employee with Marcus Construction of Prinsburg, underwent surgery Friday for leg injuries. He suffered a serious injury Jan. 21, 2007, when he and his then-wife, Desy Tiurma Nonweiler, 31, were riding a snowmobile near Prinsburg and were struck broadside. Desy Tiurma Nonweiler, a native of Jakurta, Indonesia, was killed in the crash.

Nonweiler and Maria Nonweiler, a native of the Philippines, were married in 2008 and have a 5½-month-old son together.

Unity Christian Reformed Church in Prinsburg and friends are helping care for the Norweilers' two children. A benefit fund has been established on behalf of the family. Funds can be sent to the Nonweiler Benefit, C/O the PrinsBank, P.O. Box 38, Prinsburg, MN 56281.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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