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Continued: A family, a town await

  • Article by: KEVIN DUCHSCHERE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 10, 2007 - 9:59 PM

Greg Jolstad had never been long away from Mora. He was born there, raised there, graduated from Mora High School and returned to the area after spending a couple years in the Twin Cities.

Since the age of 18 he had worked construction, a perfect job for a guy who liked to keep his winters free for ice fishing and the Vikings.

"He lived on [Knife Lake] in the winter," Lisa said.

For the past 10 years, Greg had worked for PCI, a company that he considered more a family than a work crew, she said.

She remembers that he had worked on the I-35W bridge at least once before, despite his fear of heights; he had joked about opening a minnow business on the side.

"He never, never told me the bridge swayed," Lisa said. "When I heard that on the news, that was the first time I heard it."

Greg's favorite meal was a triple-decker hot beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy.

On Monday before the bridge collapsed, he called her on his way home from work and asked what she had for dinner. Leftovers, Lisa said.

She could tell he was "bummed," she said, so she started peeling potatoes and prepared the famous triple-decker.

When he got home he did his "doogie bounce," rolling his arms, and drawled, "Honey, you rustle up the best vittles, day after day." It was one of their favorite routines.

On the morning of Aug. 1, Greg kissed Lisa and left the house at 8 a.m. "I'll be late. Love ya, Pud," he said.

He expected that the overlay work on the bridge wouldn't begin until 7 or 8 p.m., when it was cooler.

That evening she got a call from PCI that there had been an accident on the bridge. She tried Greg's cell phone but got no answer, then turned on the TV. By 8:30 p.m., she knew that Greg was the only crew member who was missing.

The support she has since received from the people of Mora, PCI and government officials, she said, has been heartwarming.

The gas station owner held her for five minutes and told her, "We love you, Lisa."

PCI has given her a company vehicle to use and promises to keep sending Greg's paychecks until further arrangements are made.

Both Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak have given her their personal cell-phone numbers and told her to call anytime with concerns.

On Thursday, she returned to Minneapolis with Greg's mother, Dorothy Svendsen of Hinckley, for another briefing and a meeting with some of the Navy divers searching the wreckage. One told her that they're specifically looking for Greg.

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