Minnesota roundup: Twitter posts about opening Vikings stadium to homeless spins out of control; Former principal, 77, falls outside, dies of exposure; 3 more state news stories
MINNEAPOLIS—What began on Twitter as a joke Sunday afternoon, quickly spiraled into false news reports that U.S. Bank Stadium would open its doors to the homeless during a night of subzero temperatures in the Twin Cities.
Shortly after the Vikings' loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Minneapolis gym owner David Dellanave tweeted that the team was planning to turn the stadium into a temporary homeless shelter.
Although it wasn't true, the tweet was soon shared thousands of times, including by some Twin Cities media professionals. At least two national news outlets, CBS Sports and Yahoo Sports, reported the rumor as fact, citing Dellanave's tweet as their source. Both reports were later deleted.
Several local reporters debunked the hoax when they questioned the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority about it.
The story appears to have originated with local marketer Jake Nyberg, who later said he tweeted the rumor to his 4,700 followers in an attempt to shame the Vikings and the MSFA into opening the stadium to the homeless for real.
Dellanave, whom Nyberg identified as a friend, then retweeted the rumor to his 14,800 followers. Neither of the men noted that it was a joke.
Nyberg and Dellanave later deleted their false tweets and apologized for misleading people, saying their goal was only to draw attention to the dangers of homelessness in frigid weather and to suggest the stadium as a possible solution. Nyberg also deactivated his Twitter account.
The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority says nobody sought shelter at the stadium.
Former principal, 77, falls outside, dies of exposure
OAK PARK HEIGHTS, Minn.—A 77-year-old man who apparently walked out of a senior living facility Sunday night in Oak Park Heights was found dead outside early Monday morning.
Thomas LeCloux, a retired principal of Oak-Land Junior High School in Lake Elmo, is believed to have fallen outside and died of exposure to frigid weather.
Oak Park Heights Police Chief Brian DeRosier said the man was living at an apartment at Boutwells Landing.Police have not identified the man, but statements from Boutwells Landing and the Oak-Land school said he was LeCloux.
DeRosier said staff at the facility went to check on the man about 11 p.m. Sunday to help him get ready for bed, but they didn't find him in his apartment.
The facility told police that wasn't unusual because the man sometimes visited other people in the facility.
"He generally would take care of himself," DeRosier said.
But staffers called police at 1:10 a.m. Monday when they still couldn't find him. A search was launched involving about 10 police officers and 10 to 15 firefighters, including personnel from Bayport, Stillwater and Washington County. A Minnesota State Patrol helicopter also joined in the search.
DeRosier said the man's body was found lying on a relatively untraveled walking path between a Walmart store and a Lowe's store about a half mile north of the senior living facility.
Brainerd woman who died in crash with semi identified
BRAINERD, Minn.—The Minnesota State Patrol identified a Brainerd woman as the person killed when a semitrailer and passenger car collided on Business Highway 371 Friday afternoon.
Linda K. Marolt, 62, died as a result of the crash reported at 3:15 p.m. at Business Highway 371 and Brent Drive, south of Brainerd, the State Patrol reported. The car Marolt was driving, a 1999 Honda Accord, was totaled.
Marolt was wearing a seat belt and the airbag deployed.
The driver of the Mack semitrailer, identified as Douglas W. Calkins, 59, Deerwood, had no apparent injuries.
The Honda was traveling south on Business Highway 371. The semitrailer was traveling north on the same highway. The Honda began to drift over the centerline and collided with the semi near the front axle, according to the crash report. The State Patrol described road conditions at the time as icy.
Alexandria restaurant with broken pipes to reopen earlier than expected
ALEXANDRIA, Minn.—Those with plans to dine at Bello Cucina over the holidays are now in luck, as the restaurant will be reopening a week and a half earlier than anticipated after a burst pipe shut it down last week.
According to owner Jason Mueller of Glenwood, the Alexandria restaurant will be open again on Tuesday, Dec. 20. Though repairs on the main bar area are not complete, the two smaller dining rooms and the upstairs bar area will be usable.
After the pipe burst early on Thursday, Dec. 15, Mueller said he was told that a previous owner of the building had a similar incident where a sprinkler pipe had frozen and burst and caused a significant amount of damage in the lounge.
"From what the gentleman from the sprinkler company told me, it was never repaired correctly," Mueller said. "So it happened again and I had waterlines burst all over my entire bar."
Though the extent of the damage has yet to be determined, Mueller says it is significant. "We don't have dollar amount, but I'm guessing in the $20,000 range," Mueller said.
Mueller opened the Alexandria Bello Cucina in June. Other locations include Fergus Falls, St. Joseph, Spicer, Marshall and Morris.
The Morris location also has been closed for some time due to a fire in September, and Mueller says the reopening for that location could still be a month away.
Boy, 3, found shivering uncontrollably outside after walking out of home
ST. PAUL—A 3-year-old boy left his St. Paul home early Sunday, when the temperature was 14 degrees below zero with a 33 below wind child, and officers who responded to a call about him found him shivering uncontrollably.
"Thank goodness somebody found this kid," said Steve Linders, a St. Paul police spokesman.
Paramedics took the child to a hospital, where he was found to be OK, Linders said.
A 49-year-old woman saw the child walking in an East Side street about 2 a.m. Sunday. She called 911 after she found him trying to get into the Roosevelt Community Center.
The boy was wearing pajamas, boots and a hat, Linders said.
Officers who responded to the call saw a woman run from a nearby apartment. It was the boy's mother, frantically looking for her son, Linders said. The woman had arrived home minutes before and was concerned to find the front door open. She went to her son's room, found him missing and immediately began searching for him, Linders said.
The woman reported that the child's father was supposed to be watching him. She had called him when she was on her way home and he told her he would need to leave because his ride would soon be there, according to Linders.Officers noted in the report that they were not concerned about the child being neglected, that it appeared the child had decided to go outside on his own, and they did not see a need for further law enforcement involvement, Linders said.