Faulkton High School Principal Craig Cassens opened graduation ceremonies with a somber announcement. Senior classmate Kaitlin Heitmann was recovering from serious injuries following a Saturday morning car accident near her rural Faulkton home.
By her assigned, empty seat during graduation was a video camera. It recorded the entire ceremony for her to view later as if she were there.
The accident occurred Saturday morning, on County Road 15, six miles north of Miranda near the rural Heitmann home.
Highway Patrolman Frank Krumm reported that Heitmann was northbound on the road when she lost control of the vehicle. Heitmann was thrown from the 2001 Oldsmobile, after it went into the east ditch, vaulted a fence and rolled several times.
Heitmann was taken to the Faulkton Area Medical Center and shortly thereafter, due to the severity of her injuries, airlifted to Sioux Falls.
The crash is still being investigated by the Faulk County Sheriff’s Department and the S.D. Highway Patrol.
Heitmann was named as an Honor Student for her class and received several scholarships including: $1,000 Dacotah Bank Scholarship, $5,000 S.D. Opportunity scholarship, $1,000/year Jackrabbit scholarship, $1,000 USD scholarship, $2,000 Black Hills scholarship, $1,000 SDSU Merril scholarship, and she was a Regent’s Scholar.
She has since returned home and is expected to make a full recovery.