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Hospitalized Baraga teen now awake, family says

L’Anse students mourn 2 classmates

HUNTER PELON

L’ANSE — A Baraga teen who family members said was not expected to survive after an automobile accident that claimed two of her friends has awakened at a Green Bay, Wis., hospital.

Hunter Pelon, 17, was talking and remembered people after regaining consciousness Wednesday, her mother, Amber Pelon, said in a message Thursday night. She called the sudden turnaround a “miracle.”

Hunter Pelon had been airlifted to Green Bay after she was found unconscious in a running vehicle in L’Anse Township on Monday afternoon, along with 17-year-olds Christopher Turpeinen of Pelkie and Dylan Roberts of L’Anse. The other two teens had died.

Asphyxiation is suspected, according to the Baraga County Sheriff’s Office, but investigation was continuing.

Some of Hunter Pelon’s classmates had traveled to Green Bay for what they thought were their goodbyes, her mother said.

“From going from me having to make decisions to her talking to me the next day is just crazy,” Amber Pelon said. “I’m so glad to have her here. She is such a strong, beautiful girl.”

All three teens were students at L’Anse Area Public Schools, which has brought in a number of resources this week to help students and staff process the news. Hunter’s recovery was welcomed by students and staff at L’Anse Public Schools during a week of high emotions, Superintendent Susan Tollefson said.

“Obviously there’s an extreme sadness for the classmates that they’ve lost,” she said. “And just amazement with the positive news of Hunter being awake. I think that was unexpected for them.”

Pelon has four other siblings in the district, ranging from kindergarten to seventh grade.

“It’s a small school,” Tollefson said. “Everybody knows these kids and their siblings. We’re happy for the positive news and hope her recovery continues in a positive direction.”

Four to five counselors and social workers from the Copper Country Intermediate School District came to the school Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Tollefson said. Since the CCISD was closed Friday, two counselors from the Marquette-Alger ISD filled in.

Some students have also found some solace in action. A group organized a memorial at Tuesday’s basketball game, including testimonials

from two students, a moment of silence, and empty seats to mark the three students.

Instead of admission, the school set up a voluntary donation at the door. It raised $4,500, split equally between the three families. The referees also donated their checks back, Tollefson said.

Pelon’s GoFundMe page had raised almost $12,500 as of Friday night. The family continues to need money for medical expenses; Pelon’s mother is also staying with her in Green Bay, the GoFundMe page said. To donate, go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/1wj46remk0.

A GoFundMe page has also been established for the family of Chris Turpeinen. That has raised more than $2,800 of a $10,000 goal as of Friday night. To donate, go to gofundme.com/f/help-support-the-family-of-chris-chris-turpeinen.

Garrett Neese can be reached at 906-483-2208 or gneese@mininggazette.com.

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