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Gustavus women’s hockey player Jori Jones killed, 3 players injured in Minnesota crash


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    GRACE TOWNSHIP, Minnesota (WCCO) — Four members of the Gustavus Adolphus College women’s hockey team were involved in a crash in western Minnesota Sunday afternoon.

The four Gustavus athletes were traveling eastbound on Highway 40 in a Chevrolet Equinox when they collided with a Dodge Caravan being driven southbound on Highway 29 west of Wilmar at about 12:40 p.m., according to the Minnesota State Patrol. Everyone involved was wearing a seat belt.

Gustavus goaltender Jori Jones, 19, died at a hospital following the crash. Three other members of the team — Gianna Gasparini, 19; Kayla Bluhm, 20; and Lily Mortenson, 19 — suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, as did the driver of the Dodge Caravan. She is a 28-year-old woman from Benson.

“She was just the kindest person. Like, I can’t even put into words how much she lighted up all of our lives,” said Lily Mortenson.

Mortenson remembers her friend for her kindness and infectious smile. They were together this weekend for a team bonding trip in North Dakota.

“We were extremely close. We do a lot of, a lot of things together,” Mortenson said about the Gustavus Women’s Hockey team.

She said the sudden loss is difficult for the team to process ahead of the new school year.

Jones began her hockey journey in Roseville with the Roseville Area Youth Hockey Association, where her father also was a coach, the organization said.

“Jori was not only a talented athlete but also an extraordinary human being, both inside and out. Her infectious smile and laughter could light up any room, and her spirit was as genuine as they come. On and off the ice, she remained a beacon of leadership and positivity,” RAYHA President Gretchen Hopeman said.

Jones went on to join the Gustavus women’s hockey team as a goalie. Head coach Mike Carroll said she was mature for her young age and fit in extremely well. She was on the team last year when they won the Division III national championship in a thrilling triple-overtime game.

“You could tell her passion to be successful and to put herself in the best place to compete with all our players to make not only yourself better, but the girls on the team,” Carroll said.

A private vigil was held at the college Monday afternoon for student-athletes and their families. As the new school year begins, the team is rallying around each other as they process the difficult loss.

“She will be watching over us. She’ll keep us all safe during the hockey season. And even if she’s not physically on the team, she will always help us no matter where she is,” Mortenson said.

The team is asking people to put out hockey sticks on their front porches in honor of Jones. There’s also an online fundraiser for the family.

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