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Family, friends say goodbye to Duluth crash victim

Cody Lund learned to be a fighter when he was a young boy growing up hardscrabble in Lincoln Park. Lund brought ferocity into the boxing ring and an infectious personality to those he met outside of it.

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Cody Lund and his fiancée, Jenna Takavitz, with their newborn son, Savior.

Cody Lund learned to be a fighter when he was a young boy growing up hardscrabble in Lincoln Park. Lund brought ferocity into the boxing ring and an infectious personality to those he met outside of it.

He once captivated Roberto Duran so much that the boxing legend refused to start a Duluth promotional event on schedule because he was enjoying quality time training a then-14-year-old Lund.

"He had the heart of a lion," said Chuck Horton, the Duluth boxing trainer and promoter who met Lund during his formative teenage years. "He was representative of so many of the West End kids."

Horton joined an outpouring of friends and relatives last week in saying goodbye to Lund, 24, who was removed from life support early Saturday at Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center.

Lund had been involved in a single-vehicle rollover crash on June 24 when his vehicle left Morris Thomas Road, rolled and struck a utility pole shortly after 8 a.m. Lund was on his way to a worksite as an insulation installer after spending the night at the Essentia-St. Mary's neonatal intensive care unit with his fiancée and newborn son.

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"Cody had been staying at the NICU and he just had very little sleep," said Shari Steberg, Lund's mother. "When I talked to the sergeant, it looks like he fell asleep at the wheel."

The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office has not yet updated its investigation into the rollover crash, which required an extrication and the help of several agencies. Lund, the sheriff's office said in its first report last week, did not appear to be wearing a seat belt.

Steberg recalled being "more scared than anything" as a single, 19-year-old mother when she gave birth to Lund, the first of her four children. Lund was active as a boy, playing hockey, snowboarding and boxing. He taught himself how to ride a bike.

"I turned my back and he was already off doing it," Steberg said. "Anything he did, he just excelled."

Lund had 28 first cousins and was close with them. They gravitated to Lund, who was blessed with striking looks. His mother recalled that once, when a young toddler cousin ignored him, Lund was taken aback.

"What's her deal?" Lund asked his mom. "She doesn't want anything to do with me."

"He was so used to everyone loving him," said Steberg, who described how Lund made the young girl a huge ice cream cone to coax her attention. Within a couple minutes, she wouldn't leave his side.

"I have a million stories," Steberg said.

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Lund and his fiancée, Jenna Takavitz, had two children together - Eli, 2, and Savior, who was born June 20. Savior was "a bit premature" and was kept for observation after his birth, Takavitz said. He is expected to be discharged from the NICU today.

"Cody's family is huge, and I have a lot of support from them right now," said Takavitz, 27, a University of Minnesota Duluth graduate with a business degree. Takavitz said she will return to the couple's home in Hermantown, where she will raise her boys and begin looking for work once life settles down. The couple would have celebrated their fourth anniversary together on Saturday, Takavitz said.

Lund was an organ donor; his mother and fiancée split the hours before a 6 a.m. organ harvesting surgery Saturday saying what they described as a difficult and heart-wrenching goodbye.

"It's just such a waste," Steberg said.

Horton, Takavitz and Steberg described Lund as a young man who'd been through his own private battles with the street and its allures. At times in his life, he struggled to find fulfillment.

But he loved being a father, Steberg said.

"All he ever wanted to be was a good father," she said.

Lund enjoyed working on cars and looked forward to the day he could do so alongside his sons.

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"He always wanted to teach his sons how to work on cars," Takavitz said. "He had a plan to give his tools to his children. I'm keeping the tools for his kids and I'm going to tell them their father was always there for them and always put them first, even before himself."

Lund, a Denfeld graduate, was respectful toward others; he appreciated the smallest kindness, Horton said. A pat on the back would lift him immeasurably. He always called Horton "coach," even away from the gym.

"His sense of gratitude was always so refreshing," Horton said.

Horton said it will be left to friends and family to look out for Lund's sons and to tell them about the kind of man, and fighter, their father was.

"We thought we had a lifetime, and now we don't," Horton said. "It's unbelievable the amount of loss we all feel."

 

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