Fundraiser planned after Braham high school students killed in crash

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Monday was another tough day for students at Braham Area High School as they returned to school without two of their classmates.

The Kanabec County sheriff's office said it appears the teens, Alexis Hasser and Gavin Butenhoff, may have missed a stop sign before the crash.
School leaders tried to make the day go as normal as possible, but when two beloved students are suddenly killed, that's a seemingly impossible task.

Braham Area High School Principal Shawn Kuhnke is doing his best to hold it together as he leads a school in mourning.

“Some of the most difficult times are when you’re in the classroom in which those two students should be in and they’re not there...the desk is empty,” he said. 

Alexis Hasser and her boyfriend Gavin Butenhoff died after a collision at the intersection of 195th avenue and rainbow street in Kanabec County Saturday morning.

The sheriff says the initial investigation shows the vehicle driven by Hasser may have missed a stop sign when it collided with a pick-up.

Butenhoff died at the scene, while Hasser died at the hospital.

Butenhoff was a new student to the Braham schools, but Alexis had been here since kindergarten. 

She was on the volleyball and basketball teams and well-known in the girls’ basketball community in central Minnesota.

“It’s an unthinkable loss,” said Chuck Thompson with Five State Hoops, the organization hosting a fundraiser for the teens. 

The Penny-a-Point fundraiser during this week's state tournament will help Alexis' dad - a single father – pay medical and funeral expenses.

“What we’re asking people to do is to pledge either a penny, nickel, dime, quarter or dollar for whatever team they decide to pledge for what they score during the state tournament,” he said. 

Back at Braham Area High School, the staff vows to help support the students as they deal with their own grief.

“Both kids had just infectious smiles, and you see them in the hall way, and you wish them good morning, and the smile on their face… that’s what we’re going to miss the most,” the principal said.

The people in the pickup truck both survived the crash. Driver distraction and impairment are still under investigation.
The principal said grief counselors will be at the school as long as students need them.