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Crash victim is recovering, will be able to attend service for late wife

James Nonweiler, left, and his late wife, Maria, right, are shown with sons Xylon, second left, and Xavier. James Nonweiler is recovering from injuries he suffered last week in a crash that killed his wife. Submitted

RENVILLE -- He has a battered body with broken bones and the grief of losing his second wife in only three years, but James Nonweiler is making progress in his recovery from an accident Jan. 14 on an ice-slickened Renville County road.

A special van will bring Nonweiler, 30, from his room at North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale to Unity Christian Reformed Church in Prinsburg to attend the funeral service Sunday for Maria Nonweiler, 27, according to his brother, Cody Strand of Renville.

Maria Nonweiler was killed when the car Nonweiler was driving collided with a Renville County West School bus on Renville County Road 6. The accident happened at about 9:30 p.m. as the bus was bringing the RCW boys' basketball team home. Three-year-old son Xavier was in the back seat of his parents' car and escaped unscathed. Xylon, age 5½ months, was not in the vehicle.

Strand said that his brother has a long road of recovery ahead, but his prognosis is encouraging. The physical injuries -- including three breaks to his left leg's femur bone, a cracked pelvis, broken arm, and painful bruising to organs -- are of the sort from which he should be able to largely recover.

He had suffered a concussion as well, but CAT scans have been good, Strand said.

Family members are also optimistic that Nonweiler will overcome the emotional challenges of having lost a second wife in only three years, almost to the day and on the very same road. Strand said his brother has a very strong faith in God. His first words when coming out of the fog of sedation was to express his faith.

Nonweiler and other family members have also been encouraged by the outpouring of support, Strand said.

"We have been blessed with how people have stepped up,'' said Strand. He called the support from local church members, and complete strangers, nothing short of "amazing.''

The twin misfortunes Nonweiler has experienced are far more difficult to understand. Nonweiler was severely injured in a snowmobile accident on Jan. 21, 2007, and his first wife, Desy Tiurma Nonweiler, 31, was killed. He was crossing the road just a few miles from their home near the Kandiyohi-Renville County line when struck broadside by an SUV.

Nonweiler required months of recovery after the snowmobile accident, and the injuries still trouble him, said his brother.

This latest accident happened on the same road as Nonweiler drove his wife home from her job at the RenVilla in Renville.

Nonweiler was conscious at the accident scene on Thursday night. Sedated later by physicians, he regained consciousness on Saturday, aware that he had lost his wife.

Strand said his brother and other family members remain especially grateful for the help received at the accident scene, starting with the RCW basketball team and their coach in removing Xavier from the car.

Strand's father-in-law, Kim Mulder, was among the Renville first responders arriving at the scene, and shortly after delivered the tragic news to Strand and his wife, Melissa.

The newly married couple is caring for Nonweiler's two sons while he recovers. The family does not know how long he will need to remain at North Memorial Hospital. They are hopeful that he can be moved to Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar and that his physical therapy can be completed here.

His progress can be followed on a Caring Bridge Web site:

Tom Cherveny

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

(320) 214-4335