Isanti mother dies in broadside crash Sunday night

By Rachel Kytonen

A 30-year old Isanti woman has died after her car was broad-sided by another vehicle on Sunday, Aug. 7 at 6:01 p.m. at the intersection of 269th Ave. N.E. (Co. Rd. 9) and Durant St. N.E. (Co. Rd. 45) in Athens Township.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Christin M. Birkholz, 30, of Isanti, died at the scene after a vehicle driven by Melody F. Lewis, 16, of Ham Lake, ran the stop sign at 269th Ave. while heading south on Durant St. Birkholz, driving a 2003 Olds Alero, was heading westbound on 269th Ave.

The report said Lewis’ vehicle, a 2002 Dodge Caravan, broadsided Birkholz’s vehicle, causing it to roll into a water-filled ditch and land on its roof.

Birkholz’s two minor sons, who were passengers in her vehicle, are in serious condition at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Her other passenger, her minor daughter, was treated and released from Cambridge Medical Center.

According to the Isanti County Sheriff’s Department, the three children were removed from the vehicle from people who stopped to render assistance.

Lewis was treated and released from Cambridge Medical Center. Her two passengers, mother, Laurie A. Lewis, 47, and minor female relative, both of Ham Lake, were also treated and released from Cambridge Medical Center.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, road conditions were reported dry at the time, and neither alcohol or electronic devices played a role in the crash.

The Minnesota State Patrol is taking the lead on the investigation. The Isanti Police Department, Cambridge Police Department, Isanti County Sheriff’s Department, and Isanti Fire/Rescue responded to the scene.

Funeral services for Birkholz will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 15 at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in East Bethel with Pastor Dan Nordin officiating.

A visitation will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14 at Strike Funeral Home – Isanti Chapel. There will also be a visitation one hour prior to the funeral Monday at the church. Interment will be in West Oak Grove Cemetery.

  • Cassie

    This is messed up. First of all, the mother should have been wearing her seat belt. Obviously. But, still, this would not have prevented the crash. This 16 year old girl has killed a mother with young children just because she couldn’t stop for a stop sign. How sad. How ridiculous. Im not trying to be mean to this young driver. I am just saying that this is another one of those accidents that would have been prevented if someone had just been paying attention.

    • Melody

      Yes, the mother should have been wearing her seat belt. Yes, the young driver should have been more cautious and definitely should have stopped at the STOP sign. Now there are little ones who have to grow up without their mother. We have laws for a reason —- people please, please abide by them!!

    • Brenda

      If you knew the young lady who was driving, you would not make such a harsh comment. She is a very sweet, shy girl with a huge heart. This young girl will never be the same. Surely neither will all of those in the other family and those who love them. Please pray for all involved.

  • Melinda

    Most automobile accidents happen because somebody wasn’t paying attention. My thoughts and prayers are with both families.

  • Jackie

    This is a shame all around. I cannot imagine living with the fact that a careless mistake was made… a fatal one. My sympathies are with both families, but especially for the kids who will not grow up with their mom, who should have been wearing a seat belt.

    • bec

      She was wearing a seatbelt. the report was wrong

  • Cathleen Schmainda

    I’m so sorry to read this – and it really hits home with me after my experience yesterday. I was driving west on Cty Road 5 from Princeton – and a blue mini van was stopped at the stop sign at Cty Road 42 (It “T”‘s at Lake Francis). Thankfully – I had been following a slow moving camper and was only driving 50. The van apparently didn’t see me (or the other 2 cars that were heading east) – and they pulled out when I was literally 30-40 feet from them. I slammed on MY brakes – they slammed on theirs – and I missed smashing into their car by a mere 5 or 6 inches. Thankfully the cars heading towards me saw the van and also stopped so I was able to swerve into the oncoming traffic lane. I’m a mom to 5 kids – 1 was with me… had they pulled out 5 seconds later, a horrible accident would have happened. I’m so sorry for this family – my heart aches for them.

  • Nicole

    I know the woman who helped rescue the children, Those 3 children were saved that day by someone, to me that is amazing! I am so sad for the family. How tragic, yet amazing the kids are alive!!

  • Jodie

    ~~ This is such a sad situtation. This is why they call accidents…..accidents! Nobody hopes or plans on something like this happening. All we can do is keep everyone involved in our prayers and try to learn from this and share with other young drivers how important it is to pay ATTENTION! My thoughts and Prayers are with Everyone involved!

  • Sandy

    The issue here isn’t a seat belt. Often in high impact accidents seat belts fail and wearing a seatbelt in this type of accident wouldn’t had mattered. Most people would die regardless or only lived for a very short time. As sad as this is for a teen driver, the issue is inexperienced teen drivers and each year they are responsible for accidents due to careless mistakes. That one careless, inexperienced mistake took a young mothers life. She was a wife, a daughter, a sister, a cousin to people who will all miss her. The mothers 2 children most likely will have this memory as well haunt them in nightmares and when they call out, their mother wont be there. Minnesota state laws need to change. We need to recognize age 16 is too young to be driving a car and that mistakes are costly, and they should be held accountable. The teen driver was negligent, period. Not holding teens responsible tells every teen driver if you don’t pay attention to stop signs, it’s “just a mistake” or “just an accident” and their lives will just go on. Loosing a life is not a mistake or an accident.

    • Brenda

      Do you have any children???? Inexperience is the key word you used.

      • Sandy

        Yes, I do have children and last I looked, running stop sign in against the law and it resulting in a death, is not excusable. Teen drivers result statiscally for many accidents, not just inexperience, but just for lack of paying attention. You may not like my opinion, but 16 is far too young to be driving, and there was even an adult in the car at the time of this accident. One just wonders. But age being a factor is an ‘accident’ even though it should be negligence.

        • Jodie

          I too do AGREE that 16 is to young to be driving.

        • Brenda

          I would surely agree that age can play apart in this. I wouldn’t mind if the age limit was even raised to 18. I do know that the stop sign was not run through on purpose. I have lived in Wisconsin for 15 years now, after moving from the northwest, and it still shocks me with how many folks I see running stop signs and red lights. Again, the real need here is to pray for both families involved. I hurt deeply for them all. No one will ever be the same. :-(

  • Amber

    My heart is breaking! The mother in this accident is one of my best friends only sister!! she was loved by so many! they were not only sisters but best friends! Her Babies will never understand how their mommy was taken from them too soon by a moment of pure negligence. Chrissie you will never be forgotten! my thoughts and prayers are with your husband, kids and family!

    • Lorrane

      Does anyone know how the 2 children are doing that are in the hospital? I know they were (are) in critical condition. Any news would be greatly appreciated. I am the familys’ daycare provider and I desperately want to know how they are doing. Thanks.

      • bec

        They will be fine. they are healing.

        • Brenda

          Wonderful to hear!

  • Christi

    This is the saddest story ever, I knew that family and lived a couple houses from them 4 years ago. They were great people. All over someone that wasnt paying attention on the rd a life is taken and those 3 kids will no longer have there mother. My heart goes out to them as i am in AZ now and havent seen them for awhile. My prayers are with her husband and kids. She will forever be missed and rememberd. Such a great wife, friend and mother she was.

  • http://n/a tiff

    i was told that she was wearing her seat belt and WAS not ejected from the car. it is horrible when they write lies about people! and everyone should be praying for the children!!!

  • Jen

    I am so sorry for the loss of Chrissie. I remember her and her family very well. My prayers are with her family as they deal with the loss of a daughter, mother, wife, sister, and friend. My prayers are also with the 3 kids and her husband for healing and strength through this though time. My the hand hand of the Lord be upon you and your family.

  • Jen

    I feel soo bad for both families,such a tragic way to end a beautiful day..I feel th age for teens to be behind the wheel should be raised by 1 year and it will save a lot of drivers from having to go through this nightmare..

  • Rachel Kytonen

    The details in the story are provided by the Minnesota State Patrol, who is handling the investigation into the accident. A link to the State Patrol is

    If you click on Current Information, Current Incident Records, and then click on Case Number: 11507912, you will see the State Patrol Report. Within the report, you have to click on Person 1 where it lists the victim’s name. That is where it shows she was not wearing her seat belt.

    • al

      I have spoke with Chrissie’s mother who is very upset but it was confirmed that Chrissie was wearing her seatbelt and that she never left without it because the children would have kept after her or anybody that wasn’t wearing a seatbelt!!! With that said it was CONFIRMED SHE WAS WEARING A SEATBELT!!!!

  • Lorri B

    Driving home from Wal-Mart that day no one could ever prepare themselves for the tragic events that would unfold that day. We were just a few of the strangers who would stop that day to do anything and I mean anything to help. We were some of the first people to arrive on the scene, Logan had just been cut from his seatbelt, we lied him on the ground, and down to the car these strangers ran, working together to free the second child Bailey, her hair filled with allege, she seemed okay, as a doctor on route to work at the Fairview Lakes Regional Hospital cared for Logan. It was my turn, me and another man we handed this beautiful little boy, now I know his name…Mason, I wish I would have known it then…I knelt down, with my arms around this beautiful baby as he cried and told him everything would be okay…inside, I knew it wasn’t, Warren along with another man waist deep in water had a look on his face…I knew it wasn’t. A woman brought a beautiful quilt for Mason, we tried to cover him as best we could… he was drenched, one shoe on, one shoe off… I took off his one shoe, knowing that his feet were most likely ice cold… then his wet socks… when the sheriff arrived, he ran down to the water, Warren and the other man helped to free Christin. Still kneeling on the ground with Mason I watched and prayed Christin would be saved. I read the comments about the seatbelt, and while know one will ever know for certain, Warren and the sheriff had to pull her from the vehicle, I don’t know what they classify “ejected” but to all those who knew Christin, she had to be pulled from the car. She was gone and I couldn’t imagine how her children and all those involved that day lives would change. Accidents are accidents.. Isn’t it how we react that is important..? Those 3 children were under water and wouldn’t be with us today if not for the actions of complete and total strangers. As we passed Mason off to the ER personnel and Warren emerged from the water. I gave Bailey her frog, itched her nose and walked away… both of us crying…for those involved in the accident, for those who helped, and for those who are left behind…will forever be changed by this tragedy. I pray for all of you… In some small way, we made a difference.

    • Jodie

      Thank You for everything that you guys did that day! What hero’s….God Bless you and I will be Praying for you guys as well! 😉

    • MES

      The kindness, willingness and selflessness of complete total strangers saved those babies that day. Rest In Peace Christine

    • Becky B

      @ Lori B….God Bless you and all those that assisted at the accident scene…and to all of those pointing fingers…accidents happen because we are HUMAN…and it can happen to anyone at anytime… given certain circumstances….including drivers, young, old, experienced or nonexperienced. All involved need prayers and support. What good would it do to raise the legal driving age? No matter when you start…you are still a beginner…and inexperienced.

    • Cas

      I would like to say thank you. It isn’t even close to enough, but that’s all I can say right now. I am chrissie’s sister. If you and those other wonderful people weren’t there that day, I might not have my nieces or nephews either. I had the opportunity to meet the wonderful women that gave you the blankets. She is so sweet. I would love to get the opportunity to thank you in person. I have been thinking of you and praying for you . Your life will be changed by this event also. Please let me know if I can meet you. Again thank you to the moon and back for everything!

  • Family Friend

    I undstand that the details were provided by the State Patrol but her husband was told by the Coroner that Chrissy was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. Either way she was not in any way at fault in this accident. Our prayers go out to all involved in this terrible event.

  • Another Family Friend

    I’d like to know what the mother of the teen driver was doing? Clearly not paying attention when your 16 year old INEXPERIENCED teen driver was supposed to be driving. Cars are weapons just as anything else. A senseless tragedy. A mother who can’t be there for her children because someone wasn’t being responsible. Yes, I am a mother. Completely and utter devastation for no reason!

    • Jodie

      I think that we have all been there at some point during our driving career of being distracted! Pointing fingers and fretting about who was wearing seat belts or not isn’t going to change the outcome! I’m sure that the 16 year old or her Mom diden’t wake up that morning wanting this to happen! All we can do is keep all involved in our Prayers!

  • Liz

    I went to high school with Chrissie. While we didn’t keep in touch after school, I can only imagine what a wonderful mother she was. I know she and her sister were very close and can only imagine how her children and family are coping with this tragedy. I am saddened for their loss and pray that God is with them during their time of need. They are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Robin

    I am one of Logan’s grandmas and I am extremely grateful to all the people who stopped to help our children. You saved their lives! I cannot express my feelings because there are so many. Logan, Bailey and Mason could have died in that car that day if not for people like you to take such immediate action. The boys are getting better every day and I feel like a very lucky and grateful Grandma to have them all here. The kids all have angels watching over them, they have to due to the fact that everyone who was present saved our kids. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your compassion and caring. Life does not always make sense and we have to just go along with it and learn how best to handle it. God bless you and Thank you again for saving our children

  • Erica

    to all who were involved in this accident and to the family of the victims. my heart goes out to all of you. may the Lord help guide u all thru this tradgedy. my son is friends with Logan. we live in his community. I wish all the best for him and his brother. we r praying for them every day. to Logans grandma we are so happy to hear that the children are doing better we will continue to pray for their strength and health. grandma my son has been out of town so he is pretty disapointed that he is not here to be able to visit his friend and check n on him. it would be wonderful to know a little more aout his current condition. thanks. alwas thinking about you and your family