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Family gathers at site of fatal structure collapse

Jared Kellner died after being struck by concrete slab

Dawn Kellner (left), mother of Jared Kellner, 15, who was killed when a piece of the facade of the parking structure at O'Donnell Park fell on him last week, is comforted by her sister, Stephanie Stanislawski, who blows a kiss skyward during a news conference in front of the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Dawn Kellner (left), mother of Jared Kellner, 15, who was killed when a piece of the facade of the parking structure at O'Donnell Park fell on him last week, is comforted by her sister, Stephanie Stanislawski, who blows a kiss skyward during a news conference in front of the Milwaukee Art Museum. Photo By Gary Porter

June 29, 2010

Dawn Kellner sat on a curb Tuesday morning just a few feet from the parking garage where her 15-year-old son died last week, her sister's arm draped across her shoulders.

Kellner had not gone to the garage since her son, Jared, was killed Thursday by a 13 1/2 -ton concrete slab that fell from the structure's façade while he was walking to Summerfest with a friend and his friend's parents.

The pain of her visit was etched on her tear-streaked face a few moments after she walked away from the garage, when she talked with reporters about her son.

"I wanted you to know the person that Jared was, so it was very important to me that we came here today," Kellner said while several relatives stood at her side.

Jared Kellner "always wished the world was a kinder place," his mother said. "Today I'm just asking that people take time out to honor the memory of Jared by just being a little bit nicer today, and a little bit more accepting of everybody else, because that would make his dream come true."

Kellner, a Greenfield resident, was walking out of the garage below O'Donnell Park when the slab fell at least seven feet, killing him and injuring his friend and his friend's mother.

Kellner had just finished his freshman year at Whitnall High School, where he played the trumpet and the marimba.

Construction workers preparing to remove part of the garage Tuesday temporarily stopped their work and walked away from the scene when Kellner's family arrived.

Kellner's uncle, Tom Stanislawski, thanked Kellner's friends and the community at large for the support the family has received since Kellner's death.

"Their stories and memories of Jared have brought us comfort and are proof that Jared will live on in so many people," Stanislawski said of Kellner's friends.

After Kellner's family left the garage Tuesday, workers continued removing a 30-foot section of the garage that held up the panel that fell on Kellner.

The section will be examined at the County Grounds in Wauwatosa.

A cause of the panel's collapse has not yet been determined. The garage will remain closed until engineers have finished inspecting the structure, a Sheriff's Department spokeswoman said. The Betty Brinn Children's Museum near the garage was closed Friday but has reopened. Coast restaurant, also near the garage, is also open.

Kellner's uncle said his family wants to know why the slab fell, but they also are grappling with the fact that no amount of information about the incident will ease their sorrow.

"I guess it's important for all of us to know what caused (the collapse), but . . .  still, Jared's not here," Stanislawski said.

Summerfest will pay for Kellner's funeral expenses, according to Summerfest officials and an attorney representing Kellner's mother. Kellner's funeral is scheduled for Thursday.

Before Summerfest offered to pay for the funeral, Kellner's family had established a fund to help pay for the costs associated with his death. Donations can still be made at any Associated Bank branch or sent to Jared Kellner Memorial Fund, in care of Associated Bank, 10701 W. National Ave., West Allis, WI 53227.

A portion of the money contributed to the memorial fund will be sent to the nonprofit organization To Write Love On Her Arms, which helps people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide, Kellner's family said.

The organization "was very close to Jared's heart," his uncle said.

"Jared was never afraid to be who he was and was accepting of the uniqueness of others," Stanislawski said. "Jared wanted others to know that they are important, and that every life matters."

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