Tragedy revisits Northland familyFamily and friends are mourning the unexpected death of Karen Cossalter, less than three years after her husband died in a tragic industrial accident in the Village of Superior.
By: By Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune , Superior Telegram
Karen Cossalter Family and friends are mourning the unexpected death of Karen Cossalter, less than three years after her husband died in a tragic industrial accident in the Village of Superior.
Cossalter, 42, of Wrenshall, died Sept. 12 apparently from a blood clot to her brain, though family members are still awaiting the official cause of death from an autopsy.
She had been home sick all day, when she fell over backwards, dying later at a local hospital, according to her brother Keith Gallagher.
“I’m still in shock of losing her,” he said Saturday, a day after the funeral held in Esko.
She leaves behind two sons, ages 11 and 14, who now will live with a close family member.
In November 2007, her husband, Paul, was one of four men overcome by hydrogen sulfide gas in a pit at the Lakehead Blacktop & Materials construction landfill. Co-owner Joseph Kimmes II was the first to enter the watery pit to repair a leachate pump and was overcome. One by one, three others entered the pit to help and were also overcome, including Paul Cossalter, a small-business owner.
Paul and Karen had met in high school and had been married for 16 years.
Outgoing, outspoken and with many friends, Karen was the kind of woman who made an impression wherever she went, said her two brothers, who live in Brainerd.
“She was the most awesome person in the world,” Robert Gallagher said. “She left lasting impressions. She’s always been that way.”
It was that smile and the way she talked to people, the way she dealt with people, they said.
“She showed everybody respect,” Robert Gallagher said. “She always had that great laugh. She always tried to laugh. Even when her husband got killed, she tried to laugh.”
But Paul was the light of her life, and his death changed her, they said.
“She went from married with a happy family to a single mom with two kids, and she never thought she had to experience that,” Robert Gallagher said. “To me, she had a perfect life before her husband got killed.”
With two children to raise and a business — Stitch-It
Designs in Esko — to run, she was busy, they said.
And there was the wrongful death lawsuit she filed a year ago against J. Kimmes Construction Inc, alleging negligence and failing to provide a safe workplace and adequate safety measures at the landfill where her husband died.
“We’d hardly see her,” said Robert Gallagher, adding that before Paul died, she’d get back to her hometown of Brainerd four or five times a year. But in the last three years, she only returned two or three times.
Times were hard for her, but she didn’t let her emotions show much, said Keith Gallagher.
His brother agreed: “If she had troubles in her life, she tried to keep them to herself.”
And with tragedy, her perspective shifted.
“She had a different outlook on life,” Robert Gallagher said. “She looked at life differently, and she tried to make people see that life was as short as it could be.”