Disclaimer - This article is copyright by Insight, a publication of the Collision Repair Industry Insight. While Mr Long nominated Mr Arndt for the award he won, he was a Duty Officer with the Florida Highway Patrol, not a Trooper.

Monday April 16, 2001


NABC Announces 2001 PRIDE Award Winners
St. Charles, IL -- The National Auto Body Council has announced the winners of the 2001 Pride Awards. Started in 1995, the PRIDE Award program is designed to recognize businesses, individuals, and groups who distinguish themselves and the industry by performing humanitarian and/or service deeds outside of their normal job responsibilities.

The winners are: A. Michael Anderson, Owner/Manager of Wagonwork Collision Center in Alexandria, Virginia; Clint Arndt, Metal Technician from Wentworth Buick Body Shop in Eugene, Oregon; Alex Szabo, President of Dundas Valley Collision Centre in Dundas Ontario, Canada; and Gigi Walker, Owner of Walker's Auto Body in Concord, California.

A. Michael Anderson from Wagonwork Collision Center in Virginia has been a regional chairman of Skills USA/VICA contests for the past 10 years and was state contest chairman for four years. He serves on the ASE Test Review Board and is Secretary of the Washington Metropolitan Auto Body Association. Each year, Michael gathers money, items and Easter Bunnies for Children's Hospital and delivers the goods dressed as the Easter Bunny himself. He is the youth pastor of his church, has worked at several homeless shelters, delivered turkeys and hams at Christmas and Thanksgiving and also has worked with delinquent children through a mentorship program.

Alex Szabo from Dundas Valley Collision Centre in Ontario, Canada has been active in his local Auto Body Repair Association, and was a founding member and first President of the Collision Standards Council of Ontario. Alex served for two years as the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, is an award winning member of the Dundas Rotary Club, is a member of the Salvation Army Citizen's Advisory Board, for four years served as founding chairman of the Dundas Food Drive for the Needy, is a past Board member of the Industry Education Council Advisory Board, was a winner of the Premier's Pollution Prevention Award in Ontario and more.

Clint Arndt from Wentworth Buick Body Shop in Oregon is the "unsung hero" in bringing charges and a conviction against a hit-and-run driver who killed a 12-year old girl. Clint was nominated by Florida Highway Patrolman David Long, who has never met Clint but has read about him. Officer Long stated, "Clint is a great representative for all the unsung heroes in the auto body profession that discreetly work with law enforcement each year in the apprehension of hit and run road predators." According to Officer Long, many victims of this crime would have never found the peace of knowing the killer of their loved one was caught and prosecuted without the concern and compassion of the auto body industry."
Gigi Walker of Walker's Auto Body in California is a third generation collision repairer. She started as an auto painter, worked in several shops and opened her own shop in 1988. Gigi has volunteered in the California Auto Body Association's Technical Review Committee, is past President of the East Bay Autobody Association and is currently the Editor of the association's newsletter. Gigi actively promotes the collision repair industry to women and young people. Gigi participates in the Avon Walk for the Cure, an event to benefit breast cancer research. Gigi is also actively involved in the Model Truck Competition of the East Bay Autobody Association. This Toys for Tots fund raiser involves local shops customizing Nylint big rig scale toys, then selling them at auction, bringing in over $3,000 in cash and an additional 125 toys. The local press coverage is invaluable for the local collision repair industry.

The award winners were chosen by an independent panel of judges representing a cross section of the various industry segments and appointed by the NABC Board of Directors. The 2001 National PRIDE Award winners were presented with their awards at PRIDE Night during the Collision Concepts Conference held April 6, 2001 in Minneapolis.

"We are very pleased with the candidates who were nominated this year. It was difficult to chose from among the many deserving candidates," said Dan Greenwald of Greenwald's Autobody and Frameworks, Inc., Chairman of the PRIDE Award Committee. "These PRIDE Award winners enable us to showcase some of the great things that are going on in communities across this country. We are an industry that cares, an industry that gives back to their communities."

©2000 Collision Repair Industry INSIGHT
All Rights Reserved

Another article


While auto body technician's are a frontline defense against hit and run driver's successfully getting away with murder, as Clint Arndt and others have proved, there are those who feel "it's none of their business". As seen in this story below, this attitude can come back to hurt a reputation. As reported in this March 9th, 2003 article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Susan Gengler-Liermann could easily have avoided it. She could have gotten up and walked out of a preliminary hearing that included the details of her son Jimmy's autopsy. Concentrated on something other than the way he was struck and killed as he rode his bike home from a job at the Watertown ShopKo the night of Sept. 5.

"No mother should have to sit through her child's autopsy report," she said. Still, she did. "I have to know what they know," she said. "If Jimmy endured it, I can, too. I can't turn away from what happened." What mystifies her is that so many other people, apparently, could.

Not just Moose Balian, the emergency medical technician who stands charged with hit and run, has pleaded not guilty and is facing a midsummer trial. Not just people like his sister, who allegedly knew, helped him cover it up and maintained silence for well over three months. Her silence had an abhorrent logic to it. She was related.

John Schulte, the Kewaskum auto body guy who fixed the truck, was not. He, according to his wife, had never even met Moose Balian until Balian showed up with his sister - who was a longtime friend - after the accident. Balian, according to a criminal complaint, told John Schulte he didn't initially know he had hit Jimmy, but came to realize it later. He allegedly admitted his involvement - something Schulte didn't tell police until they came knocking on his door a couple of months later. "I don't blame her," said John Schulte of Susan Gengler-Liermann, "for being upset at all." In his own defense, he said he did nothing to cover up the fact he fixed the truck, and expected that police would knock on his door shortly after Moose Balian did. "It just baffled me," he said, "that they had not come to me within a few days." It was, he said, "very upsetting waiting and waiting and waiting" for them to come.

So why didn't he just call himself? "Well," he said, "there is not an answer that satisfies people. It is easy to say it was not my obligation to do that." "I know I am subject to being criticized for it, and I just have to accept it. I am sorry that she lost her son and that this is so stressful for her." John Schulte wasn't the only one in his family who knew. According to the criminal complaints filed against Moose Balian, Balian's sister, Lecia Benske, also told Schulte's wife, Ann, what had happened. Benske, according to the complaint, asked Ann Schulte to keep it quiet and Ann Schulte agreed. Ann Schulte said in a recent interview that it wasn't the promise that kept her from coming forward. The same mid-September day she found out, she said, she talked to Balian about her faith and urged him to be honest. He was sobbing, she said, and possibly even suicidal. "I really wanted this man to turn to God and to do the right thing and he did not," she said, "and that is appalling," Ann Schulte said she and her husband "absolutely" would have come forward by now if authorities had not made an arrest in late December, and also said she regrets not coming forward instead of waiting for the police to come to them.

Which makes what happened - this recalcitrance that acknowledges responsibility but favored passivity - no less perplexing. It's not just a phenomena in Kewaskum. Just to the south, in West Bend, a teacher allegedly had sex 50 times with a boy about half her age, supposedly did it everywhere but the 50-yard-line of the West Bend football field during halftime, and felt confident enough to sleep in the kid's bedroom after she was charged. How many people - not just the kid's friends and not just since the charges were filed - knew about that whole deal?

In Susan Gengler-Liermann's case, the questions about how to accept her son's death are difficult enough. It's been six months since he died and his toothbrush is still sitting there in the shower. His bed is still unmade. She can't bring herself to make it. No more than she can bring herself to understand those who, for so long, failed to pick up the phone and let police - let her - know what happened.

"That's all society asks you to do . . . just stand up and say what happened," she said. "Why is that so hard?"


The cover-up that included John Schulte went well beyond an auto mechanic.

Original URL: http://www.jsonline.com/news/state/dec03/189295.asp

Driver sentenced to 3 years for fatal hit-and-run accident

Balian tells victim's mother he's 'sorry you lost your son'
By LAURIA LYNCH-GERMAN
Last Updated: Dec. 1, 2003

Juneau - A man whose case led legislators to increase the penalty for fatal hit-and-run accidents was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for hitting a 17-year-old boy with a truck, leaving him for dead and launching an elaborate coverup.

Moose Balian, a volunteer firefighter,apologizes to Susan Gengler-Liermann (foreground), James' mother, before his sentencing in Dodge County court.
Betty Balian is consoled Monday after the sentencing of Moose Balian, who was convicted of killing James Gengler, 17, in a hit-and-run accident.
Patti Robbins (left) and Gengler-Liermann look at the bicycle James Gengler was riding when struck by Moose Balian's vehicle. The bicycle was never revealed during sentencing.
Moose Balian, who had previously pleaded no contest to one count of hit-and-run causing death and had been found guilty by Columbia County Circuit Judge James Miller, also received three years of extended supervision once he is released from custody.
Under the terms of that plea bargain, prosecutors did not recommend a sentence. But Assistant Attorney General Barbara Oswald, who prosecuted the case, said Balian still refuses to accept responsibility.
"It was the act of a man who had been drinking, was worried about his reputation, his wife's reputation and he drove off and left a teenage boy dead in a ditch for others to find," she said.
Balian, an emergency medical technician and volunteer firefighter, said in court Monday that he had exercised poor judgment.
"I thought a lot about what I wanted to say today, but the things I want to say aren't important," he said to Susan Gengler-Liermann, mother of James Gengler, who was killed. "Today isn't about me getting what I deserve. It's about Mrs. Liermann getting what she deserves."
"I had to make a decision, a decision to bring Mrs. Liermann comfort . . . (or) to subject those people I love to stress and quite possibly pushing them over the edge," he said.
"Susan, I'm really sorry you lost your son," Balian told her.
Balian told Gengler's older brother, Andrew, that he hoped the two of them could sit down one day to talk about James' death. But Andrew Gengler, who had been staring at Balian, got up and walked out of the courtroom.
Balian, whose wife is former Dodge County Supervisor Betty Balian, was immediately taken away to start serving his sentence.
He faced up to a $10,000 fine and a prison sentence of 71/2 years. Under a new law signed last month by Gov. Jim Doyle, people in similar circumstances will face a maximum sentence equal to that for vehicular homicide - 25 years and a $10,000 fine. Gengler-Liermann testified in favor of the bill and was present when it was signed.
"Finally, justice has been served," Andrew Gengler said later of his brother, who was killed in September 2002 on his way home from work as he pedaled down a rural Dodge County road after finishing up his shift at ShopKo in Watertown. "I thought the sentence was a little light, but at least it's prison time."
Judge Miller noted that it took authorities three months to match a vehicle seen leaving the scene to Balian. He took his truck to a Kewaskum auto body shop for repairs days after the accident, and authorities believe he planted deer hair on the truck to bolster his claim the damage was caused by a deer.
Authorities also believe Balian staged an accident in Madison to destroy the truck shortly after that. The truck was later found at a salvage yard - a day before it was supposed to be sold.
"This isn't really an isolated incident, Mr. Balian," Miller said. "From the time of the accident until you were arrested, you (made) a calculated effort to go undetected while enjoying a reputation of trust."
"We waited for the person to turn himself in," Gengler-Liermann told the judge Monday. "How could he live with himself? How could he look himself in the mirror . . . while the truck that slaughtered my son sat in his garage?"
Balian's lawyer, Dennis Melowski, asked for probation and jail time. He said his client was a good man who had touched many lives in a positive way but agreed there was "no sugarcoating" what he did.
"Moose Balian panicked. He made an incredibly poor decision. Not out of a malice, but out of concern for his family," Melowski said.
Miller said he found it hard to believe Balian couldn't have known he had hit Gengler - a 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound 17-year-old on a mountain bike.
"Witnesses say the sound of the accident was something they will never forget," Miller said. "There was a softball-sized spider web crack in the windshield."
The mangled bike was in court, but not a subject of discussion.
The fallout from the hit-and-run accident affected more than Balian and Gengler's family.
Balian's wife was recalled by Dodge County voters in August, and a Kewaskum School Board member resigned in May after it was discovered he repaired Balian's truck at his automobile repair shop after the fatal accident.
Betty Balian served on the County Board for 14 years before the recall, launched by supporters of Gengler's family. The board had censured her for sending e-mails to former Sheriff Jerry Witte asking him to take her husband off a list of suspects in the investigation.
John Schulte also was the subject of a recall effort for his role in the case. He resigned from the Kewaskum School Board before a recall was organized.
Schulte repaired Moose Balian's pickup truck. Schulte, court documents indicate, believed Moose Balian was involved in the accident but never notified authorities.

copyright Milwaukee Journal Sentinel



 

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