ROLLAG LAID TO REST
Freeman 17-year-old Megan Rollag was laid to rest this Friday, Dec. 8 — nearly a week after a single-vehicle accident 5 miles north and a mile east of town claimed the life of the Freeman High School senior.
Megan’s funeral was held at the Freeman High School gym, with burial in the Salem MB Church cemetery immediately following the service. A time of lunch and fellowship followed at the church.
Meanwhile, Freeman Public Schools and the larger Freeman community continue to process the shocking death while remembering a life taken too soon.
“Megan, a beloved member of our school community, was known for her authenticity, genuine spirit and beautiful singing voice,” FHS Principal Katie Juhnke wrote in a statement that reflected thoughts from the staff. “As an exceptional singer, and a leader in our choir, she fearlessly showcased her talent, leaving a lasting impression on those who heard her or sang with her.
“Megan’s quiet strength, no-nonsense approach and unwavering convictions set her apart,” the statement continued. “Her passion for horses were marked by enthusiasm, and she approached life with a respectful demeanor that extended to her teachers and peers. A talented artist, Megan’s perfectionist dedication, and infectious laugh brightened our classrooms. Megan left a permanent mark, living authentically and a blessing to all who knew her.
“Megan’s absence is deeply felt, leaving behind cherished memories and inspiring others to embrace their true selves. She will be greatly missed here at FHS.”
Megan died the result of an accident at the corner of 273rd St. and 440th Ave. — a mile south of Silver Lake — Saturday afternoon, Dec. 2.
A press release issued by the South Dakota Department of Public Safety Sunday afternoon says the accident occurred at 2:47 p.m., when the driver of a westbound 2006 Pontiac G6 GT lost control and rolled, coming to a rest on the south side of the roadway.
The accident occurred a mile east of Highway 81 — at the Hutchinson County/Turner County line — where the road transitions from pavement to gravel. A traffic sign just before the intersection reads “Loose Gravel.”
The driver was not wearing a seatbelt and pronounced deceased at the scene, according to the release.
While the Department of Public Safety did not name the victim pending family notification, word spread quickly that Rollag was the driver, and on Saturday evening Tabitha Schoenwald — Megan’s mom — shared with “gut-wrenching pain and broken hearts” on Facebook that her daughter had lost her life.
Later that evening, information shared on the Freeman Public School District’s website and social media platforms offered thoughts and prayers to the Rollag and Schoenwald families as part of an announcement that the school would be open from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday for those who wanted to gather.
Freeman Public Superintendent Jake Tietje told The Courier Sunday afternoon that the school week would begin as scheduled, with additional counseling services available. A staff meeting was held first thing in the morning, where information about the care of students and staff was shared.
“In times like these it’s important to do our best to accommodate the needs of our student body, but also try to get back to daily routines as best and quickly as possible, but only when they’re ready,” he told The Courier. “There will be place to go and talk to somebody if a student is having a hard time, and that goes for staff, as well.”
Monday night’s 7-12 holiday concert took place as planned and was dedicated to Rollag, with the Girls 9 — of which Megan was a part — singing Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven” in her honor.
Director Sonja Waltner said the group had not originally planned to sing but decided to Monday afternoon.
“The girls came to us and said they would like to do it because it was Megan’s favorite song,” Waltner said.
Video of the emotional tribute can be found at the 28-minute mark of the concert recording found on the school’s YouTube channel.