Mom: Fugitive killed in crash was good person
Jonathan Holum’s mother and sister remember him as being smart, a talented mechanic and carpenter, and a person with a big heart and unforgettable smile.
When Cora Weil’s uncle thinks of her, he thinks back to her teenage years living on a farm, taking care of animals, throwing hay, painting and drawing pictures.
The two have been portrayed in a different way in recent days, as Wisconsin fugitives who died Saturday morning when the truck they were in rolled after Holum intentionally swerved into a Colorado State Patrol car during a chase.
“I just can’t believe this happened,” said Holum’s mother, Carol, of Eau Claire, Wis., where Holum and Weil also lived.
But Weil’s uncle, Steve Kircher, said his family always had a bad feeling about Holum.
“I don’t want to drag the guy down, but we just didn’t feel he was a good influence on Cora at all,” Kircher said.
Weil died a day after turning 23. A trooper pulled over Holum, 29, for weaving on Colorado Highway 82 near Glenwood Springs.
The State Patrol says Holum stopped, provided a fictitious name and then drove off after the trooper returned to her vehicle to conduct a records check. The fatal chase followed. Troopers believe Holum was intoxicated.
Holum lost his own father in a drunken-driving accident when he was 11. Holum’s sister,
Christina Freezy, said their father was a passenger in a car whose driver was drunk and ran a stop sign.
Holum and Weil had warrants out for their arrests. Weil faced a burglary charge. Holum was a suspect in thefts of copper and had outstanding charges for multiple felony offenses, including burglary.
Carol Holum said her son and Weil left for Colorado on Jan. 20. Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Department investigators think Weil stole $3,000 that day from a convenience store where she worked, and they believe Jonathan Holum assisted in the crime.
Kircher said Weil was “just a great kid,” but lost contact with her family after taking up with Jonathan Holum.
Carol Holum and Kircher both wonder about the State Patrol’s actions.
“If they suspected Jon to be a drunk driver, why are they chasing him? Did they want to kill him?” Carol Holum asked.
State Patrol spokesman David Hall said the situation involved an experienced trooper deciding to chase someone thought to be drunk and a danger to others.
Carol Holum questions why the trooper left him unattended in his truck if she thought he was drunk. And Kircher wonders why the trooper didn’t at least take his keys.
Hall said troopers must consider a driver’s constitutional rights before resorting to such drastic steps.
“We can’t read people’s minds, and people are responsible for their actions,” Hall added. “He (Holum) made a decision. He ran off.”
Holum said she realizes her son bears responsibility, but just can’t picture him fleeing from police.
Instead she pictures the father of an 8-year-old daughter, the son who gave her a hug and a kiss on the forehead whenever he left her, the one she still calls “just my baby.”
“He’s going to be missed so bad,” she said.
Said Freezy, “I guess it’s just hard for me for people to sit and trash my brother because I knew him. I knew who he really was.”