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Family Devastated After Girl, 13, Dies In Crash On Way To School

MILACA, Minn. (WCCO) -- A teenage girl from Milaca died Tuesday morning and her three siblings suffered various injuries after their minivan pulled out in front of a semi on the way to school, the State Patrol says.

The crash happened around 8 a.m., about a mile west of the Milaca's elementary and high schools. The minivan, a Dodge Caravan, was heading south on 127th Avenue when it pulled out in front of the semi, which was traveling west on Highway 23, a witness told the State Patrol.

Thirteen-year-old Katrina Maetzold died at the scene. Her brother, 17-year-old Tristen Maetzold, was driving the minivan, and is devastated by his sister's death, the family says.

"He just got his license this year," said Larry Maetzold, his grandfather. "He drives to school…he's a good driver."

Tristen Maetzold suffered a broken leg. His 11-year-old brother, Devon Maetzold, suffered a fracture to his skull, and their sister, 16-year-old Patience Maetzold, suffered bumps and bruises.

None of the four Maetzolds were wearing seat belts, the State Patrol said, and two of them were thrown from the minivan.

Emergency crews took the injured to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where they are being treated. Devon Maetzold underwent a four hour brain surgery Tuesday night.

The driver of the semi, 51-year-old Thomas Dietz of Milaca, suffered no apparent injuries in the crash, the State Patrol said.

"The Creativity of our Group" 

Katrina Maetzold was described by her father, Lanny Maetzold, as a gifted artist and aspiring writer.

"She was the creative niche in my family, just had a wonderful way at looking at things, being able to see the beauty in things, being able to draw it," her father said. 

 He added: "I don't know what I'm going to do without her."

Both Katrina Maetzold's father and grandfather hope the crash won't haunt Tristen Maetzold, the teen who was driving, for the rest of his life.

"He's gonna blame himself and that's not gonna change for a long time, and that's my determinant goal to make sure he knows it's not his fault," Lanny Maetzold said. 

He wants his son to know that the crash could have been three times worse.

"He has to see that," he said. 

Lanny Maetzold was still processing the tragedy Tuesday night. No plans have yet been set for what's next, he just wants to be by his kids while they recover. 

"I'm all sorts of lost," he said, "and I have no idea where to begin." 

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