Amy Dalrymple, Published December 12 2008
Family aided by prayers after crash
Instead, their family was planning funeral arrangements for
8-year-old Amanda, who died Wednesday after a car crash that occurred while 15-year-old Jessica was driving them to school.
The family is grateful that
5-year-old sister Abby was home with the flu on Wednesday, because otherwise she would also have been in the back seat, said the girls’ uncle, Roger Fenstad.
Jessica was released from the hospital Thursday with bumps and bruises but no broken bones.
She drove her two sisters every morning from their south Fargo home to Shanley High School, where Jessica is a sophomore.
The younger girls would then take a bus to Holy Spirit Elementary in north Fargo. Amanda was in third grade and Abby is a kindergartner.
The girls also have twin 3-year-old brothers, Adam and Jordan.
“What’s really neat is how Amanda was a little mother to her sister and her two little brothers,” Fenstad said. “She took care of them to no end.”
Whenever the family got in their van to go somewhere, Amanda would be the first to make sure her siblings were buckled, he said.
Amanda, who would have turned 9 on Dec. 27, was smart in school and loved to swim, ride bike, and play soccer and basketball, her uncle said.
She took piano lessons from her aunt, Jan Fenstad, for two years.
Amanda had seven songs memorized for the recital she planned for her family Thursday at her aunt’s home.
In addition to Christmas songs like “Little Drummer Boy” and “Up on the Housetop,” Amanda was going to play a duet of “Amazing Grace” with Jessica.
“Amanda was a bright, bubbly little girl, just a beautiful little girl,’’ Fenstad said. “I can’t say enough accolades about her.”
Amanda’s death has been hard on the family, but her parents, Curt and Cynthia Leininger, have a large support network in the area, Fenstad said.
Holy Spirit and Shanley held prayer services on Thursday attended by students, parents, staff and relatives of the Leininger family.
“People from school have been extremely gracious,” Fenstad said. “That’s very, very kind and everybody really appreciates it very much.”
Kyle Edgerton, superintendent of the Fargo Catholic Schools Network, said the small school system is pulling together to support one another.
“We celebrate our successes and we come together to support each other in our sorrows,” he said.
During the prayer services, students asked a lot of questions to try to understand why this happened, he said.
“I think it hits home for them because this kind of a thing could happen to any one of them as well,” Edgerton said.
The best support people can offer for the family are their prayers, Fenstad said.
“It’s a hard time for them and it takes a lot of prayers and time to get through,” Fenstad said. “There’ll be a lot of struggles.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590