A member of the national champion Gustavus Adolphus College women's hockey team was killed and three of her teammates injured in a two-vehicle collision at a rural intersection west-central Minnesota, officials said.
The crash occurred about 12:40 p.m. Sunday about 20 miles west of Willmar on Hwy. 40 at the intersection with Hwy. 29 in Grace Township, the State Patrol said.
The women's SUV was heading east on Hwy. 40 in tandem with two other vehicles of teammates when it collided with a southbound minivan.
All four women were taken by emergency responders to Montevideo Hospital. Jori Lynn Jones, 19, of Little Canada, did not survive her injuries, the patrol said.
The SUV's driver was identified as Gianna K. Gasparini, 19, of Lakeville. Her grandfather, Gino Gasparini, coached the University of North Dakota men's team to three national titles during his tenure from 1978 to 1994.
Gasparini's other passengers were Kayla M. Bluhm, 20, of Chisago City; and Lily K. Mortenson, 19, of Champlin.
State Patrol Sgt. Troy Christianson said Monday that one of the drivers failed to obey a stop sign, but he did not specify which one. The intersection is controlled by stop signs at all four corners. The minivan's driver told the Star Tribune that she came to a full stop at the intersection and was sent airborne when she was struck by the SUV.
The women were in one of three vehicles of teammates returning from a short off-season trip to Aberdeen in eastern South Dakota "to see each other and enjoy their company," said Mike Carroll, head coach of the Gustavus Adolphus women's hockey team.
"There was sort of a caravan coming back," Carroll said. "One of the cars came upon the [crash] scene. They were there while the paramedics pulled the athletes out of the car. The other group heard and doubled back."
All four women were freshmen on the Gustavus Adolphus hockey team that won the NCAA Division III championship in March 2023. Before joining Gustavus Adolphus, Jones played high school hockey for Roseville, Gasparini for Lakeville North, Mortenson for Benilde-St. Margaret and Bluhm for Chisago Lakes.
Jones had a "hard-working ethic that obviously came from her supportive family," Carroll said. "She fit right in [and] embraced her role" as a backup goaltender, Carrol said.
"We were very excited for Jori to get a lot more playing time" as a sophomore, he said.
Gustavus Adolphus organized a small, private vigil on campus Monday, said Luc Hatlestad, director of media relations and internal communications for the private college located in St. Peter, south of the Twin Cities. The college is still on summer break, with classes set to resume Sept. 5.
"We will do something more expansive once students are back on campus," Hatlestad said.
Andrea Schmidt, activities director for Roseville Area High School, said Jones, who has younger siblings at the high school, was a great representative of the district. She said school officials' "hearts ache for the Jones family" and called her death a tremendous loss.
Jones was also involved in National Honor Society and chosen to be a "Super Fan" — a senior who represents Roseville in the stands at school games and events.
"Jori was just an all-around fantastic person and student," Schmidt said. "This is the type of passing that affects an entire community and will probably have a ripple effect for some time."
Jones' high school hockey coach, Craig Rosenthal, said Jones loved hockey and was "the best teammate."
"She came to the rink every day with a positive attitude," Rosenthal said in an email. "I've coached high school hockey for 17 years and Jori was one of the best character athletes I've had the pleasure of knowing."
Minnesota Hockey, the governing body for youth and amateur hockey in the state, released a statement Monday that read, "Our deepest condolences go out to Jones' family and the entire Roseville & Gustavus hockey communities. We ask everyone to please keep Jones' family and those who were injured in their thoughts."
Jones' father, Jon Jones, is a coach for the Roseville Area Youth Hockey Association, the same program that lost coach Michael Brasel in May. Brasel, a 44-year-old resident of the St. Anthony Park neighborhood in St. Paul, was fatally shot in his front yard by someone trying to break into his wife's car. A 17-year-old St. Paul boy was later caught and charged with the crime.
The minivan's driver, Brandi K. Rasmussen, 28, of Benson, Minn., said that she made a full stop, didn't see any other vehicles in all directions and entered the familiar intersection, where the SUV "had to be going 60 miles per hour" at the moment of impact.
"All of a sudden, I'm in the air, rolling and rolling and rolling," said Rasmussen, who was driving on a work assignment for Heartland Girls' Ranch treatment center in Benson, where she is a counselor.
"I didn't even see them at all, and they clearly didn't see me," said Rasmussen, who is home recovering from a concussion, whiplash and scrapes and bruises. "The patrol said they are surprised they are talking to me today."