Heather Dahlberg, a Moffat County High School teacher, lost three relatives in a plane crash Wednesday who were en route to Craig to watch a school play she had been directing.
The play continued as planned at the request of Dahlberg and her theater students, MCHS Principal Thom Schnellinger said.
“The kids determined that … in the tradition of any theater, the show must go on,” Schnellinger said.
He lauded the student actors’ wishes to continue with the production, “Rehearsal for Murder,” a 1930s-era mystery.
The play opened Thursday night before an estimated audience of 150 people inside the MCHS auditorium, and continues with performances at 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday.
“I’m just stunned and inspired by our kids’ courage and their poise through this (time),” Schnellinger said.
According to a news release from the McLeod County, Minn., Sheriff’s Office, authorities were notified at 11:06 a.m. Central time Wednesday that a plane had crashed about 3.5 miles north of Glencoe, Minn.
Heather Dahlberg’s brother, Stuart Douglas Dahlberg, 52, of the Twin Cities area, was believed to be the operator of the single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza, according to the McLeod County release.
Also on board were Stuart’s wife, 36-year-old Ivelisse Suarez Morillo, also of the Twin Cities area, and Heather Dahlberg’s mother, 76-year-old Mae Elaine Dahlberg, of St. Cloud, Minn., according to the release.
WCCO-TV in Minnesota reported a local farmer was the first person on the scene at the crash site and said he found three adults and three dogs, all deceased.
The Federal Aviation Administration reported, according to the TV station, that it appears the plane was not in radio contact with a nearby tower before the incident, but was using visual flight rules.
The National Transportation Safety Board is leading an investigation into the crash with help from the FAA.
A final determination of the cause may not be available for a year or more, which is typical in these types of investigations, FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said.
As of Thursday night, the FAA had yet to determine where the plane departed from or where it was headed.
Craig resident Melinda Hall, a friend of Dahlberg’s, said the MCHS theater and choir teacher’s family was traveling to see her students perform in the play.
Heather Dahlberg learned of the crash just before a cast dress rehearsal Wednesday afternoon, Hall said.
On Thursday morning, Schnellinger said Dahlberg was not under any obligation to direct the play.
“We are absolutely going to roll with her wishes and desires in terms of where she feels she can assert herself and comfortably move through this whole thing,” he said.
However, Dahlberg was in attendance Thursday night and introduced the play, saying, “I just want to thank all of you for being here tonight to support the Moffat County theater department.”
She declined to comment for this story.
During the intermission, Hall gave actors feedback on their performances and helped them make last-minute adjustments to their costumes. She was one of several volunteers, including parents and MCHS staff, who offered to help with the production Thursday night.
“Heather Dahlberg would probably be a little upset if they’ve come this far and not followed through with it,” Hall said.
“The kids were all in agreement (Wednesday) night, that they’re going to run through the finish line and they’re going to carry this all the way to Saturday night.”
Mae Dahlberg was a devoted supporter of the high school’s choir and theater programs, and she often came to Craig to watch her daughter’s students perform in play and choir concerts, said Kat Thompson, one of the cast’s members and a MCHS senior.
“We know that she’s still watching us, so we want to give her the best show that we can,” she said.
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