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The Cottonwood schoolchildren's memorial fund

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 22, 2008 08:30 PM

These are the four schoolchildren killed in the Cottonwood, MN bus accident this week.

1buskids.jpg

* Hunter Javens, 9, Cottonwood.
* Jesse Javens, 13, Cottonwood (Hunter & Jesse were brothers)
* Emilee Olson, 9, Cottonwood
* Reed Stevens, 12, Marshall.

My Fox Twin Cities reports:

Funeral arrangements are set for three of the four bus crash victims:

Visitation for Emilee Olson will be Saturday from 6:00-9:00 and Sunday from 1:00-2:00, followed by a funeral — all at Christ Lutheran Church in Cottonwood.

Mourners will gather for Hunter Javens, 9, and his brother Jesse Javens, 13, on Sunday from 5:00-8:00, then from 10:00-11:00 on Monday morning. The gatherings will be a Lakeview School, with a funeral service following.

Arrangements for Reed Stevens, 12, are pending.

As I noted yesterday, a memorial fund has been set up:

Memorial Fund for Families of Bus Crash Victims
United Southwest Bank
P.O. Box 288
Cottonwood, MN 56229

Keep the families of these children and the others injured in your prayers.

***

The illegal alien van driver arrested yesterday was charged today with vehicular homicide and other crimes:

The woman appeared in District Court this morning in a wheelchair with one leg in a cast or bandage. Through an interpreter, she told the court that her name is Alianiss Morales, that she has been working in a Cottonwood cabinet shop for about a month and was living with her boyfriend in a Minneota, Minn., trailer but they broke up on the day of the crash.

Maes asked the judge to hold the woman without bail, citing her questionable identity. But the judge said that it would be wrong because none of the charges involve allegations of using false identification. However, the defendant’s attorney, Manuel P. Guerrero, of St. Paul, protested that the bail set — $400,000 without conditions or $200,000 with an assortment of conditions — was akin to denying her bail because of her financial situation.

Her next court appearance is set for April 21.

“She’s grief-stricken about the accident,” Guerrero said of his client. “She’s hurting about what happened to the kids.”

Federal immigration investigator Claude Arnold said this morning that Morales is not the woman’s name, and she is not revealing her real name. He added that she is in this country illegally, probably from Mexico.

Federal immigration spokesman Tim Counts said that the woman has been of “minimal helpfulness” to investigators, but “we will get to the bottom of matters.”

Maes told the judge that ICE officials had located an Alianiss Nunez Morales in Puerto Rico and investigators showed pictures to that woman’s grandparents of the woman in the Lyon County jail. They said the woman in jail was not their granddaughter, Maes added, which became the agency’s reason for being concerned about the jailed woman’s identity.

“Minimal helpfulness.” Doesn’t sound grief-stricken to me.

***

The Star-Tribune has posted the charging document and statements from “Morales” and the bus driver.

I repeat the questions I asked yesterday:

What did “Morales’s” employer know about her illegal status and when did the employer know it?

Has she evaded deportation orders? How many?

What didn’t local police ask about her immigration status when she pleaded guilty to driving without a valid license two years ago–and will the parents of the schoolchildren hold officials accountable?

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