Victims Were Making Most Of Situations

Madison Newspapers, Inc, March 27, 1999
By Brenda Ingersoll

Like all moms, the mothers of Amber Lettman and Monica Forgues worried and fretted over their girls, as they moved toward adulthood.

Today, Amber Lettman is dead, and Monica Forgues is in critical condition, a short time after they took jobs selling magazine subscriptions with a roving crew of young people.

Amber, 16, of Oregon, perished in Thursday morning's deadly van crash on Interstate 90 near Janesville. Seven young salespeople died in the accident.

``I think she was a nice kid and was trying hard,'' said Gene Delcourt, who taught Amber social studies at West High School's night school. ``She was staying with her grandma in Madison so she could go to night school, and she attended third quarter, which ended Thursday. I understand she didn't enroll for fourth quarter because she got this job.''

Monica, 15, of Madison, was listed in critical condition Friday at St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford. The rollover accident left her paralyzed, according to the Rock County district attorney's office. She is an eighth-grader at Sherman Middle School, where many students made cards Friday to send to Monica's hospital room. ``We sure are hoping she pulls through and is able to have another chance,'' school social worker Julie Wilke said.

Delcourt said Amber Lettman struggled at first in his class. ``She didn't know how to take notes and didn't have a lot of practice taking school seriously,'' he said, ``but I could see by the look in her eyes during the second lecture that she was interested, and she did all her work, and she passed. She talked a lot about really wanting to get it together and finish school.''

Monica Forgues, Wilke said, ``is real caring. She has some real leadership skills, always a smile on her face, and she's well-liked by her peers.''

Monica's mother, Nancy Ashton, ``asked me and all the staff to pray for Monica,'' Wilke said. ``Certainly, she's in a state of shock.''

Monica ran away from home in 1997, causing her mother much anguish, until she turned up after about three weeks at a Madison agency that helps runaways. Her mother said then, ``We're going to have to go through a lot of counseling, but we'll get through it.''

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