MORRIS – For two years Grundy County Coroner John Callahan has been telling Meagan’s story of how she was killed by a drunken driver, and over the weekend someone tainted it.
Callahan displays the car that 24-year-old Meagan Ahlstrom died in when a drunken driver crashed into her and killed her while driving on Route 47 near the Grundy County Fairgrounds in 2009. Meagan’s mother, Rebecca Ahlstrom, lived and the family gave him permission to preserve the car to use as a reminder for the community not to drink and drive.
While it was being displayed at Morris Community High School this weekend for a health fair, someone vandalized it, as well as other property in the area.
“It’s just very shameful, and how anyone would do this is beyond me,” Callahan said Monday. “So, I will be working with the police and if I have to put up a reward to get people to talk, I certainly will be doing that personally.
“This is a passion of mine and a passion to the Ahlstrom family.”
The vehicle is permanently attached to a trailer. It is displayed with signs that say “Don’t Drink and Drive” and “Meagan’s Story.”
The vandals spray-painted the signage that states Meagan’s story, the “Don’t” in “Don’t Drink and Drive,” and the picture of Meagan’s face.
“To do something to someone else’s property is bad enough, and to do something that tells the story of a tragedy and to do it to her face, I don’t know any words. ... I’m really upset,” Callahan said.
Callahan has taken the vehicle throughout the county and outside of it as far as Hinsdale.
“This is not a reflection on Morris High School in any way, it’s just disturbing,” he said.
A woman driving by saw the sign had been defaced and called it in, Callahan said. Other properties were damaged as well, including the school.
Morris police are investigating multiple incidents of vandalism that occurred somewhere between Saturday and Sunday, Chief Deputy Harvey Van Cleave said.
Besides the display, vandalism was done to Morris Community High School, a Morris police squad car parked on Lynwood Street, another vehicle on Calhoun Street and to the CSX transfer box at Union and Hazel streets.
The license plate of the squad car was painted over with black spray-paint. The other vehicle had spray-paint on the driver’s side and the license plate, Van Cleave said.
“We believe they were all related,” he said.
The transfer box and the vandalism on the school property were spray-painted with profanity. At the school it was on the school’s front deck between its two front entrances, Superintendent Pat Halloran said.
“We are going to see if we have surveillance video of it,” Halloran said. “It will become a police matter and most likely a school matter. The district is cooperating with Morris police and the coroner.”