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Minn. roundup: 1 dead in crash on snowy Minnesota road; apparent Alexandria drowning victim reportedly longboarding

Brainerd students board the bus Monday morning on Smith Road as heavy snow fell in central Minnesota. Steve Kohls / Forum News Service

Winter made a cameo appearance Monday, May 1, bringing measurable snowfall and hazardous road conditions and temperatures well below average across much of Minnesota.

Sgt. Neil Dickenson of the Minnesota State Patrol reported slippery, snowy roads were responsible for nearly 20 crashes Monday in the 2800 Patrol District, including a fatal rollover crash, five property damage crashes and 13 vehicles off the road. The district covers Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Morrison counties.

The State Patrol reported the fatality at 6:52 a.m. Monday in northwest Aitkin County. Lorena Kay Weimer, 64, of Hill City was traveling south on Highway 169 near milepost 275 at the time of the crash, according to the crash report.

The 2006 Ford Escape Weimer drove left the road and rolled, landing on its roof in 3 feet of water. Weimer, who was wearing a seat belt, was dead when emergency crews arrived. An airbag did not deploy. The State Patrol reported the road was snow- and ice-covered at the time of the crash.

Mike Stewart, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Duluth, said the wintry weather responsible for unseasonable conditions was tamer than what the forecast initially predicted.

"As the snow fell, it melted, because the ground, at least in the beginning, was above freezing," Stewart said.


Apparent Alexandria drowning victim reportedly longboarding

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — A 12-year-old Alexandria girl who died in an apparent drowning was longboarding along the Central Lakes Trail.

JaLysa Anne Cook was found in about 3 feet of water Friday, April 28, between Lakes Cowdry and Darling on the west side of Alexandria.

Cook, a student at Discovery Middle School, was reportedly with another girl and longboarding, which is a type of skateboard, according to her mother, Amanda Rustman.

Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen said Monday, May 1, it is still unclear exactly what happened, but after "a series of events," the sheriff's office was called out about 5:30 p.m Friday, along with the Douglas County Water Rescue Team.

Cook was with another girl on the Central Lakes Trail, almost 2 miles northwest of Big Ole Central Park, and that when something happened, the girl called her own mother. The mother, Wolbersen said, then called Cook's father, Jeremy Cook.

Through a Facebook message to the Echo Press on Monday, Rustman said she immediately called 911 after she talked to JaLysa's friend. Rustman said she drove to the scene.

Wolbersen said there was probably a 30 to 35 minute delay from when the incident happened to when 911 was called.

Search efforts began immediately in the water and on shore about 6:10 p.m. Life-saving efforts were started after the girl was found and then North Ambulance brought Cook to the Douglas County Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

An autopsy is being performed at the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office in Ramsey.

A visitation for Cook will be Wednesday, May 3, from 4-7 p.m. at St. Mary Catholic Church in Alexandria. The funeral has been set for 1 p.m., Thursday, May 4, at the church. Arrangements are being handled by Anderson Funeral Home in Alexandria.