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Area Family Perseveres Through Tragedy

‘Close To This Day’

Anne Carlson is pictured celebrating her 49th birthday last year along with her brother Tim. Plans for her 50th birthday celebration were interrupted due to COVID-19. Submitted photo

Many important family celebrations and milestones have had to be put on hold or shifted online during the COVID-19 crisis, and that includes the 50th birthday of Anne Carlson.

Carlson hit the half century mark on June 20, but was not able to celebrate her birthday with the usual family gathering inside of Warren Manor nursing home.

“Turning 50 is a big deal for her, she’s just been talking about it and we’ve always made a big deal out of her birthdays,” said Anne’s brother, Tim Carlson.

Tim and the Carlson family have cared for Anne since tragedy struck in 1985. When Anne and several friends got together Aug. 26 for a boat ride on Chautauqua Lake.

The group of teens ended up being struck by an intoxicated driver from Ohio, who was killed in the crash, along with Brenda Morrow of Jamestown.

In addition to the two fatalities, the crash left Anne disabled at 15 years old.

“That’s what you call a group of innocent teens just hanging out and having fun,” Tim Carlson said.

“I took my sister up there that night. I knew they weren’t drinking. I think they were getting ready to go on a road trip.”

The incident sparked renewed interest in legislating boaters who drive while intoxicated, and was the impetus for a series of news features run by Post-Journal reporters Manley Anderson, Gary Hahn and Dan Kane in the fall of 1985.

Adding to the Carlson family’s struggles was the drowning death of Tom Carlson, just two years later in 1987, also on Chautauqua Lake.

“I don’t remember graduating, I don’t remember the rest of my football games,” said Tim Carlson, who was a senior at Jamestown High School in 1985. “My sister and I were very close. We are very close to this day.”

Through all the tragedies, Tim has remained committed to caring for his sister and his mother, who are now both residents of Warren Manor. In celebration of her 50th birthday, Tim attempted to reach out to friends on Facebook for well wishes for his sister, but did not have the success he was looking for.

“These things have happened to people whether they get injured, they get sick or something, and–how easily they are forgotten,” Tim Carlson said. “I’m living in Jamestown because of my mom and my sister. Yeah, I could have went out and lived a different life, but my mom and my sister are my priority. Here’s a young girl who was terribly injured. She can’t taste, she can’t smell, she can’t walk.”

The dedicated workers of nursing homes and assisted living facilities have continued to support residents through these difficult times, often risking their own health to do so.

“These people who work at the home, that’s their family,” Tim Carlson said.

While COVID-19 restrictions have forced us apart in many ways, they can also serve as a reminder of what is really important.

“Don’t forget about the people, your loved ones. Life is short,” Tim Carlson said.

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