ALTURA, Minn. -- Three teenage girls were killed in a pickup truck rollover accident on County Highway 27 near Altura Friday afternoon.
The Winona County Sheriff's Department says 16-year-old Shauna Marie Ruhoff of Lewiston, 14-year-old Katie Lee Hornberg of Altura and 13-year-old Morgan Zeller of Lewiston were all thrown from the truck and died at the scene.
12-year-old Cyndey Maker of Lewiston was thrown from the truck and airlifted in critical condition to Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse, Wis. The hospital said it could not provide any information for Maker.
"They always sat next to me, they were always next to me when walking down the hall or in class," Carmen Nesler said. "We would go to each other's houses, have fun, talk about boys and mess around."
"It's a brutal loss for the entire school, their families, and for the community," Lewiston-Altura Principal Jeff Apse said.
Deputies said the truck rolled into the east ditch around 3:20 p.m. Friday.
Minnesota State Patrol said that 90% of Minnesotans wear their seat belts, which leaves 10% at risk for injury or death.
"Any time we talk about seat belt enforcement, we're specifically trying to prevent tragedies like this," Lt. Eric Roeske said. "Wearing a seat belt is the number one thing people can do to prevent themselves from getting hurt or seriously hurt in a crash."
The Lewiston-Altura High School, where all four girls were students, posted the following statement on its website:
"Thank you for your concern for our community in light of our recent unfortunate event. The High School will be open Saturday, April 24th at 10:00 for students wishing to meet with friends, staff and counselors.
"The driver's education class and softball tournament scheduled for Saturday have been cancelled. The Just for Kix program at 4:00 at the High School is still scheduled to take place."
A Facebook group dedicated to the three girls who died had more than 1,200 members by 11:30 a.m. Saturday. A second group dedicated to Maker, who survived, had about 450 members as well.
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