SHAKOPEE, Minn. -- Two teenage girls were killed in a crash outside of the Renaissance Festival over the weekend, according to law enforcement officials.
The Scott County Sheriff's Office says they responded to a report of a single-vehicle crash on the service road of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival west of Highway 41 around 7 a.m. Saturday.
When authorities arrived, they found two girls unresponsive. The driver was extricated from the vehicle and airlifted to HCMC where she was pronounced dead. The passenger was pronounced dead at the scene.
The girls, both 17, were identified as Taylor Wieland of Le Center and Cheyenne Mikkelson of Prior Lake. According to a Renaissance Festival spokesperson, they worked as parking attendants at the festival.
"I lead a cast of some 400 people. So we have a cast call in the morning and I announced it there and everybody was shocked," said Carr Hagerman, artistic director at the Renaissance Festival.
Hagerman was one of the first people on the scene of the crash. "We're all kind of a close-knit community and you lose two people like that, it's a hard thing to start your morning with," he said.
Police say their preliminary investigation determined the vehicle was traveling west on the gravel service road when it left the roadway, crashing into some trees.
Authorities are investigating the incident and do not believe drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash. They say neither girl was wearing a seatbelt.
Candice Mikkelson, Cheyenne's mother, told KARE 11 "We are humbled at how many lives our daughter has touched. She was an amazing gentle soul who would always put her friends and loved ones before herself. We cannot express the devastation and loss we her parents and three siblings are experiencing. Thank you for everyone's thoughts prayers and support during this tragic time."
Molly Lynn Rank, speaking on behalf of the family of Taylor Wieland, told KARE 11, "Taylor was free spirited. Loved life to the fullest. If she wanted something she got it no matter what it took. She would always have 2 or 3 jobs to get what she wanted. Her and Cheyenne were holding hands in the beginning and holding hands in the end. She was very creative. Her hair colors always switched. One week you should have blue hair and the next week she would have purple hair. She loves her nieces and nephews more than anything. She would do anything for her friends. She put her friends and family before herself."
The Renaissance Festival will pay tribute to the girls on Monday night at 7 p.m. outside the front gate. The canon is traditionally used to signify the start of the season and start of the day, as well as the end of the day and the end of the season. However, Monday night they will blast the canon twice to acknowledge the two lives lost.