LICHFIELD, Minn. (FOX 9) - Three members of a Minnesota family will be laid to rest after they were killed in the state’s deadliest traffic crash in a decade.
The three were returning home to Rochester when they were struck by a car traveling the wrong way on Interstate 90 last week near Eyota, Minn.
Family members were shocked when authorities contacted them with the news last week. Now, they’re trying to coordinate funerals for a mother and her two children.
“Just speaking with the state patrol, they kinda said they’ll never really know the circumstances of that night. It was such a significant crash and with the debris and everything everywhere, there most likely will always be speculation,” said Nathan Johanneck, the victims’ brother.
Johanneck and his loved ones are devastated, struggling to come to terms with the crash that shattered their extended family. In an instant, they lost Esther Peters and two of her children, 26-year old Christopher and 23-year old Shayla Peterson.
“We’re still not sure how to deal with it. I think we’re all still in shock. You go from being in shock to, ‘this isn’t real,’ to reality,” a family member said.
The crash was the state’s deadliest in a decade, with three members of a Waukesha, Wisconsin family also killed in the vehicle that was going the wrong way.
Johanneck and the others gathered in Litchfield and insist there is no bitterness. They believe it was an accident caused by a confused, out-of-state driver who made a deadly error.
They’re focused instead on giving Esther - the eternal optimist - Christopher and Shayla the proper goodbye they deserve.
“It’s unthinkable that they would go in a way as they did with what they’ve already been through in life," family member Sarah Rue said.
As for those challenges, it included basic needs like housing as well as health issues with Esther battling cancer; Christopher, a rare heart condition; and Shayla, type-one diabetes.
Their extended family has launched a GoFundMe with proceeds going directly to the Willmar funeral home hosting a joint memorial service for the three on Thursday.
The family would also like state investigators to examine how the driver got onto the freeway the wrong way in hopes of possibly making changes to the on and off ramps.