Isaac Sletto was on his way to a live-action role-playing event and ended up in a live action car wreck.
Sletto, an MSUM freshman, and his friends, Megan Hoff, Robert Kappelhoff and Bobby Nesvold from Crookston were on their way to South Dakota to take part in a LARP event, where participants take on fantasy roles and wage battles, akin to a civil war re-enactment for the “World of Warcraft” crowd.
Hoff picked up Sletto on Friday for the weekend quest and two-and-a-half hours into their trip, the group began to see white smoke coming into the car.
Hoff pulled over to the left side of I-29 immediately and checked under the hood with her passengers, where they noticed a small fire rising on the engine.
Kappelhoff pulled out his water bottle and tried emptying it on the engine with no luck.
The group backed off the car and “freaked out,” Sletto said. He focused on turning on his cellphone and calling 911.
Kappelhoff opened the trunk and began tossing out belongings to keep them safe.
“Megan was crying and yelling at Robert to get away from the back of the car,” Sletto said. “I’m talking to this 911 operator trying to tell them what’s going on, at this same time Robert and Bobby have this great idea that they should run down the interstate and go get help. As soon as they’re gone, I see them again in this car with this couple. And they said they were able to flag down an ambulance.”
The 911 operator Sletto was speaking to was able to send a state trooper to their aid soon. The officer was able to block off the left lane of traffic, and “there was traffic was backed up about an hour and a half, two hours.”
Sletto said all he and his friends could do was watch the car burn from a distance, and listen to the pops of deodorant cans, the four tires and eventually the explosion of a propane tank in the trunk.
A fire truck arrived and put the fire out, but the car was already totaled, along with many of other items, an iPod, some tents, four backpacks full of clothes, and the entire haul of LARP equipment — several fake swords and some fake spell equipment.
“I can use the excuse, ‘Hey my homework started on fire,’” Sletto said.
“Bobby has a new respect for life,” Sletto said. “I don’t know how meaningful that is coming from a 16-year-old. Robert still feels horrible that he only saved his stuff. Megan’s kind of in a funk like ‘Oh I don’t have a car.’ My main concern was to get everyone away from that thing. After that and we were safe, I just wanted to watch it explode, which it never did. You have to make sure everyone is okay, then worry about everything else.”
“There were jerks who drove past us very slowly, and they were recording us. I felt that was mean,” Sletto said. “We’re looking for the videos on YouTube. If you see a Buick LeSabre, that’s us.”