MORRISON – Steven Kuehl and his girlfriend, Jessica Ann Fortune, had talked about marriage, but he told her that it would be 9 years down the road.
As it turns out, he was joking.
Earlier this summer, Kuehl, 22, of Morrison, quietly decided he would propose to his girlfriend during the demolition derby at the Whiteside County Fair.
He was a driver, so he could make the proposal before a large crowd.
Right before his heat started Saturday night, he pulled his car onto the field and got out, acting as if something was wrong with it.
A derby official asked Fortune, 21, of Morrison, whether she was Kuehl’s girlfriend. She said yes and was told to go to her boyfriend’s car.
“There’s a little something going on out here,” the announcer told the crowd.
Kuehl, who works at Spencer’s Automotive in Morrison, pulled Fortune aside, with the entire scene captured on video.
“I told her I loved her,” he said, “and I pulled a ring out of the box in my pocket.”
Fortune clasped her face.
He dropped to one knee and popped the question.
She gave an immediate yes.
She hugged and kissed him, wiping away tears.
“For those of you who aren’t sure what’s going on,” the announcer said, “he has just proposed, and she said yes.”
The already cheering crowd already seemed to have the idea.
Fortune said she had no idea she would be getting a proposal.
“They had it all planned,” said Fortune, who works at Morrison Community Hospital and Target in Clinton. “They were trying to distract me. They said something was wrong with Steven’s car. One of the officials said he needs to talk with you.”
Fortune said she was so stunned that all she remembers was Kuehl asking her to marry him.
“That was the best way to get proposed to,” she said. “It was memorable.”
Kuehl said they will probably get married next year.
“It’s crazy,” she said. “It’s life-changing.”
The two have dated for a little more than a year.