Minnesota State Trooper Writes a Card to a Family who lost their son

MinnTrooperCardLyle and Kerrie Pohlen lost their 16-year-old son, Johnathon Pohlen, in a car crash in 2013. "To this day, we have good days and bad," Kerrie Pohlen said. "We struggle to get by sometimes." The Pohlens say the loss of their son is like a void that can't be filled. Recently, they got an unexpected reminder in the mail that showed them someone remembers Johnathon. "The card was from Officer Tom Erickson letting us know that he stopped on Interstate 94 to help a vehicle that had a damaged tire and in that process saw Johnathon Pohlen's Adopt-a-Highway sign," Kerrie Pohlen said. She says Erickson was the one who broke the news to them back in 2013 about their son's death. "Officer Erickson came to our home and had to deliver news that no parent would ever want to hear," she said. Erickson says he's driven by the sign many times and never paid any attention to who's name was on it. When he realized who it was, the memory came rushing back. "To add to the difficulty for me, it was the first death notification that I ever had to make to a parent as a parent," he said. "It was shortly after my first son was born." Erickson says he sent the card the day before the anniversary of Johnathon's death. "I thought I should reach out to the family and just let them know that I was thinking about them that day," he said. He wrote, in part, "I wanted to tell you what a great idea and thoughtful tribute it is to Johnathon to adopt the stretch of freeway where he tragically lost his life." It took Lyle Pohlen an hour to read the card. "I would read, like, a sentence and start to cry, and I kept reading it," he said. "It's hard for me to read, but it makes me feel good." The Pohlens say the pain of losing Johnathon is still fresh, but knowing Erickson cared enough to contact them three years later helps. The Pohlens plan on having the highway name adoption take place May 7.

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