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Lanesboro mourns the loss of three

By Mitchell Walbridge

Fri, Jan 10th, 2014
Posted in Lanesboro Features

As the story topped many media outlets’ broadcasts and headlines across southeastern Minnesota for days, those in the community of Lanesboro were hoping for the best, or at least some piece of good news, as law enforcement officials, dive teams, and search and rescue units, many of them volunteers, searched for the victims of an SUV that plunged into the frozen Mississippi River in Winona, Minn. early the Sunday morning of January 5.

The body of the 36 year-old driver, Christina Lee Hauser of Winona, was discovered along with the body of 29 year-old Matthew Erickson of Chatfield after the vehicle was pulled from the river early that Sunday. As search efforts continued Monday despite the bitterly cold temperatures, the body of 28 year-old Blake Overland, of Stewartville, was found, leaving just one more passenger missing, 29 year-old Andrew Kingsbury of St. Charles.

At the time this edition was published, crews were continuing their efforts to recover Kingsbury’s body--a step that would help to provide some closure for the Kingsbury family.

In additon to dive teams, sonar equipment and a special underwater camera have been utilized in the recovery of the victims’ bodies.

On Tuesday night, January 7, a prayer service was held in Winona not far from the scene of the accident, as family and friends began the mourning process, coping together over the loss of three well-known young men.

Though listed as residents of different communities within southeastern Minnesota, the three friends are more closely connected than one may realize by the information provided in any report of the accident. Well acquainted through their years at Lanesboro High School, Erickson and Kingsbury were members of the Class of 2003. Overland was not far behind, graduating in 2004.

Often, it’s hard for those in larger communities to understand that classmates soon become family when you graduate with a class of under 30 members. The Class of 2003 in Lanesboro had 29 graduates, and the class of 2004 had 26, respectively.

As the Erickson, Overland, and Kingsbury families grieve the losses of Matthew, Blake, and Andrew, there’s no question that the Lanesboro community and all acquaintances grieve alongside them.

Regardless of what details surface around this tragic accident in the days to come, there’s no doubt that Matthew, Blake, and Andrew will be missed, though their memories live on in the lives that they’ve touched.

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