Community grieves loss of two Braham teens

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Braham Area High School opened its doors Sunday afternoon to give students and staff a chance to come together and grieve the loss of two fellow students who died in a car crash Saturday morning. 

Senior Alexis Hasser attended Braham Area Schools since the first day of kindergarten. Her boyfriend, Gavin Butenhoff was a junior at the high school and was a new student this year. 

People from Mora and Cambridge went to the school to show their support. 

“I saw one of the posts in the morning saying, ‘Fly high Gavin,’” said Ashley Lindberg. “I was like is this serious—is this real?” 

Ashley Lindberg and Brook Gooden have known Gavin Butenhoff for years. They’ll miss his warm personality and felt it was important to be at Braham Area High School with others who are mourning Alexis and Gavin. 

“Just showing support…makes you feel a little bit better—it’s not going to be better, but it helps a lot,” said Gooden. 

The young couple died after they were involved in a two-vehicle collision at the intersection of 195th Avenue and Rainbow Street in Kanabec County Saturday morning. The crash happened about 15 minutes north of their high school. 

A woman who lives near the area of the accident said the crash was devastating. She heard a loud bang, saw the aftermath and ran to help. 

Butenhoff was pronounced dead at the scene. Hasser was flown to North Memorial Hospital where she later died. The other two people involved in the crash were also transported to hospitals, but their injuries were not considered life-threatening. 

“When you lose young people, it’s absolutely heartbreaking,” said Superintendent Ken Gagner.  

Although Butenhoff was new to the school this year, he was already becoming popular with students, Gagner said.  His twin sister also attended the school, while their other siblings are enrolled in schools in Cambridge and Mora.

Hasser was set to graduate in just a few months. She was a member of the girls basketball and volleyball teams and also a member of the student council. 

“As a senior, both stories are heartbreaking, but for Alexis being here, and for those kids who are going to be graduating in a few months, to lose one of their own, it’s just devastating,” Gagner said. 

Gagner added that he knows the grieving process is just beginning for the families of the students and others who knew them. 

“We’re going to be here for you, we’re going to support you today and everyday going forward,” Gagner continued.  

The superintendent said that counselors will be available for students and staff throughout the school week.