ST. PAUL, Minn. – Kathryn Merseal stares at the selfie her daughter Kacy texted her Saturday night from the Bruno Mars concert at Xcel Energy Center.
It was typical Kacy, mugging for the camera with her college friend Tanya.
A few hours later, Kacy – Drake Law School grad and new attorney with a Des Moines law office – was dead, the victim of an apparent drunk driver.
“How am I doing? Just barely putting a foot in front of another, barely taking a breath,” Kathryn Merseal said Monday evening.
Kathryn Merseal and Kacy’s father, two younger brothers and fiancé were among the family members who had all just arrived from Iowa to view Kacy’s body at a St. Paul funeral home.
“Her body is so damaged we can't have a casket open for a viewing,” Kacy’s mother said, outside the funeral home.
Kacy Merseal, 29, was killed after the concert on a stretch of Highway 19 west of Northfield while driving to stay at a friend's house, in a compact car her boss had loaned her for the trip.
A Rice County criminal complaint says 29-year-old Brandon Dellwo of Shakopee was driving a Lincoln Navigator SUV in the wrong lane, with a blood alcohol level of nearly .27 – more than three times the legal limit to drive in Minnesota.
Dellwo, who has a lengthy record of driving offenses, was charged Monday afternoon with criminal vehicular homicide while under the influence of alcohol.
Kacy’s friend Tanya, who was riding in the passenger seat, was hospitalized, but survived the crash.
Kacy Merseal’s wedding date was already set for next June.
“I have a daughter that doesn’t get to get married, have children, grow old, achieve her dreams,” said Merseal’s mother, who grieves also for what the broader community has lost – “the people that aren’t able to gain from all the knowledge that she has acquired by going to school for three years and studying and taking that bar examination.”
Instead Kathryn Merseal will go back to Iowa with the fun orange purse her daughter carried to the concert, her credit cards, coins and a pearl earring – all wrapped in a plastic bag.
“I can't get her back,” said Kathryn Merseal, “because somebody couldn't just say, ‘Hey come get me, or call me an Uber, or get me a taxi.”