Community mourns young Eden Prairie woman killed in accident abroad

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Photo credit Pudas family

Family and friends are remembering a young Minnesota woman known for her loving nature and passion for travel after she died in a tragic accident last week. 

Katie Pudas, a recent Eden Prairie High School and University of Kansas graduate, was killed in a motorbike accident while vacationing in Vietnam.

Family describes Katie as a caring spirit who called everyone “Sunshine.” So, this weekend, people are painting the city yellow in her honor.

“She’s just one of the most caring people I know,” said Brandon Brink, a close friend of Katie’s. “Her ability to just love others... she was always telling people she loved them and how much they meant to her, and I just really appreciated that attitude."

Brink was a classmate both in high school and at the University of Kansas, where Katie graduated this spring with a double major in only three years.

Katie was on a three-week trip with another friend through Indonesia, Thailand and then into Vietnam.

“They started in Hanoi, they went all the way up north to Ha Giang to do a three-day motorbike loop, and then on the second day of that motorbike loop is when the accident occurred,” Brink said.

The Ha Giang loop is very popular among world travelers who rent motorbikes and ride through a stunning landscape along winding, often narrow mountain roads. Brink made the same trip himself last October.

On a curve, an oncoming car cut too tight, and Katie lost control trying to avoid it.

To honor Katie’s brilliant spirit, her friends plan to put 1,000 yellow pinwheels across Eden Prairie on Sunday. They ask others to put anything else yellow on display to help shine her light.

“She’s made a lot of impact on a lot of people, whether it’s big or small. I hope they just hold that memory and think about how she made them a better person,” he said.

Full statement from Pudas family:

"Our family is truly touched and humbled by the out pouring of love and support given to us during this time. We all thought Katie was incredibly special and to know how loved and cherished she was by others is so wonderful, words cannot begin to describe it. 

A visitation and funeral service have been scheduled at St. Hubert’s Catholic Church for Friday, August 3rd and Saturday, August 4th, respectively. 

Due to Katie’s giant heart and giving spirit, various things have been organized in her honor by both our family and some of her friends. A memorial fund is being created and the hope is to involve some of her favorite causes as beneficiaries. People are also encouraged to decorate their private property with the color yellow in honor of sunny personality and habit of referring to everyone as “sunshine”. Yellow pinwheels will be available starting Sunday, July 29th at various locations but other yellow presentations are welcome.

Lastly, our family just wants to express how grateful we are that Katie had so many wonderful people in her life that she got to make so many fabulous memories with. While people’s thoughts and hearts have all been with us during this time, ours have been with them as we know how special she was to everyone. Katie was a true gem that never failed to dazzle others with her brilliance."