(KMSP) - On her way to work as a 911 dispatcher in Minneapolis, Jenna Bixby became one of the calls she had gotten so used to taking.
The 30-year-old was struck and killed by a wrong-way driver on Highway 252 in Brooklyn Park just before 8:00 p.m. Saturday night, an unspeakable tragedy that's left a close-knit group of family and friends reeling. Authorities say alcohol was a factor in the crash.
"We just want to know why," said Nikki Orlicki, Bixby's sister, Sunday afternoon. "We don't understand. Why her? She was going to work to save people, and somebody decided to take her life and didn't care."
The incident happened while Bixby was driving her Hyundai Elantra south on 252 just north of Brookdale Drive in Brooklyn Park. Meanwhile, a man police believe was driving drunk on the wrong side of the highway struck her car head on. She was pronounced dead at the scene, while the other driver was identified by Minnesota State Patrol as a 72-year-old man from Blaine. He was transported to North Memorial Medical Center via ambulance and remains in critical condition.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey mourned the loss of a dedicated public servant Sunday evening, saying in a statement that Bixby was on her way to do what she did every night: keeping people safe.
"My thoughts are with her family, friends, neighbors and all of her colleagues in City Hall who are mourning her loss," he said. "She was an extraordinary person."
It's a sentiment shared by Bixby's family and friends, who are only beginning to comprehend the events of the last 24 hours. Given her line of work and the manner of her death, they said, only makes the depths of Saturday evening's tragedy worse.
"My daughter is 7 years old, and she didn't understand this and she doesn't realize that auntie's gone," Orlicki said. "And it wasn't her choice. Someone made that choice for her because they didn't care."
Full Statement from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey:
"Minneapolis’ Emergency Communications staff work day-and-night to keep people safe. As a 911 Dispatcher, that’s what Jenna Bixby did for years – and what she was on her way to do at City Hall when her life was tragically taken late last night. My thoughts are with her family, friends, neighbors and all of her colleagues in City Hall who are mourning her loss. She was an extraordinary person.”