By Jim Schroeder
A well-known Harlem-area teenager was killed in a one-vehicle accident on Saturday.
Dawn Marie Zellmer, 19, of Harlem died from injuries suffered in an automobile accident that occurred nearly four miles west of Harlem, the Montana Highway Patrol said.
Zellmer was traveling in her white 1992 Ford Explorer from Chinook to Harlem to pick up her mother and take her to Billings for shopping. They were going to bring Zellmer's grandmother, who lives in Billings, back to Harlem, said Darwin Zellmer, Zellmer's father.
About 6 a.m., Zellmer's vehicle drifted off the right side of the highway, went into a ditch and hit the end of a culvert. Zellmer died instantly, the Highway Patrol said.
Zellmer wasn't wearing a seat belt. Speed wasn't a factor, according to the Montana Highway Patrol accident report.
Zellmer was popular in the Chinook and Harlem areas with both teens and adults, her father said. Both of her parents, Darwin and Betty Zellmer, are U.S. Postal Service employees in both towns and have residences in both Harlem and Chinook.
Zellmer was active in the Future Farmers of America, the National Honor Society and was involved in track and field at Chinook High School besides being the school wrestling team manager.
She and her two brothers had a lawn-mowing business during her high school years.
She graduated from Chinook High School in 2002 and had planned to start the nursing program at Montana State University-Northern in the fall semester.
She was working at Sweet Memorial Nursing Home. Her father said she had a scholarhip from Sweet Memorial to study nursing at Northern.
"Dawn was a beautiful person with a bright personality and she was always smiling and could bring a smile to everyone's face," Darwin Zellmer said. "She had a special outlook on life with a tenderness for people and animals.
"When you see a pretty girl with a happy smile on her face, think of Dawn," Darwin added. "She was the dawn of every morning, our sunshine."
Attendance at Dawn's funeral is expected to be so large that the services couldn't be held at the Harlem church attended by the family. The service was to be held at 2 p.m. today in the Harlem High School gymnasium to allow more room for attendance.
"You know with a girl 19 years old you have to hold it in a school. She's touched alot of lives," her father said.