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AUSTIN EDITION -- Friends, teachers remember 15-year-old who died in accident

By Amy Olson

aolson@postbulletin.com

Fifteen-year-old Lewis Sorensen was known as a nice boy who had leadership potential.

On Thursday, family members, friends and students from Southland School said goodbye to the boy who died in a one-vehicle crash a week ago.

Lewis was killed late Saturday night or early Sunday morning when the truck he was driving on a gravel road near his grandmother's farm in Dexter rolled, ejecting him from it. He was pronounced dead at the scene. According to police reports, Lewis had asked to borrow his uncle's truck Saturday night.

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Southland High School Principal Larry Croker said the school bused students to the funeral at St. John's Lutheran Church in Elkton. Counselors were on hand all week to help students.

"Some of them are taking it pretty hard," Croker said.

Those who knew Lewis described him as a bright young man with a promising future despite the tragedy of losing his mother, Brenda Sorensen, who died in a house fire in 1997, and the loss of his grandfather, Donald Sorensen.

"He was a fine young man," Croker said, adding Lewis had a bright future, showing promise in the school's agriculture program and in 4-H.

Extension educator Ann Walter described Lewis as a good kid who was easy to get along with.

Walter said Lewis had been involved in the 4-H program for seven years, showing sheep with his younger brothers, Lance Sorensen and Kenny Horne, and playing baseball with the Red Rock Rangers 4-H Club.

"He seemed to be a really good kid," said Scott Thompson, who helped with the sheep judging competition Lewis took part in. "He was respectful to elders and he was really a nice kid to work with."

Walter said Lewis went to the State Fair and won reserve champion two years ago.

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"He was just ecstatic," Walter said. She added she remembers telling him his mother and grandfather were so proud of him.

"I think Lewis was someone I had a lot of hope for," Walter said, adding extension leaders gave him 4-H's Dare award, which encourages teen-agers with leadership potential to become leaders.

Croker said there will be no way to know if Lewis could have survived the crash if he had been wearing his seatbelt, but he hopes students can learn from the tragedy, noting the statistics show the survival rate is higher for traffic crashes if drivers and passengers are wearing seatbelts.

Thompson said 4-H members will miss Lewis.

"He was really a fun kid," he said.

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