Lewiston pastor: Deaths of three girls 'almost too much to bear'

By Matt Russell

The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

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A benefit fund has been established to help Cydney Maker, 12, with her hospital bills and long term recovery needs. If you would like to contribute, please send your donation to Cydney E. Maker Fund, Security State Bank, P.O. Box 430 Lewiston, MN 55952.

LEWISTON — Friends and family of 14-year-old Katie Lee Hornberg walked in pairs as they left the sanctuary at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Lewiston on Wednesday, tears and looks of weary sadness on their faces.

For many of them, it was the third funeral they had attended after the Friday crash that killed Hornberg, of Altura; Morgan Elizabeth Zeller, 13, of Lewiston; and Shauna Marie Ruhoff, 16, of Lewiston. A fourth girl, Cydney Maker, 12, of Lewiston, was severely injured in the rollover accident, which occurred on Winona County Road 27 near Altura.

Maker, who is listed in serious condition at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, woke up and spoke on Wednesday for the first time since the accident, according to reports by friends and relatives on Facebook.


Investigators, meanwhile, are continuing their investigation, focusing on a second car that the girls might have been trying to pass when their truck rolled.

"Our small communities of Lewiston and Altura have been hit particularly hard," said the Rev. Milo Ernster, of St. Rose of Lima, noting that the deaths joined a string of high-profile auto deaths in Minnesota over the past week. "It's almost too much to bear."

Hornberg's funeral was the second Ernster officiated following the accident, having presided over Ruhoff's funeral the day before. Hundreds of mourners attended each of the three girls' funerals, filling the sanctuaries at St. Rose of Lima and Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Winona, where Zeller's funeral was held Wednesday morning.

The Rev. Richard Colletti of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart urged mourners to support each other.

"Your presence is so important not only now, but in the coming days and weeks ahead," he said.

Shows of support were apparent at both funerals Wednesday as mourners hugged each other, put their arms on each others' shoulders and offered other gestures of caring. After the sanctuary cleared at the end of Hornberg's funeral, a girl lingered, crying in her seat as people gathered to console her.

Noting how brief the lives of Hornberg and her friends were, Ernster pointed to a basic struggle many were having after the accident.

"The nagging question that haunts all of us is, 'Why?'" he said.

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