Family, Friends Cope After Crash Kills 4 NDSU Students

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A college campus is reeling and four sets of parents are dealing with the loss of their daughters. Those young women were just starting out at North Dakota State University.

Lauren Peterson, Megan Sample, Jordan Playle, and Danielle Renninger died Monday on the way back to school from the Twin Cities.

Their car slid into oncoming traffic on Interstate 94 near Alexandria.

On Tuesday classmates left cards on the dorm where two of the friends lived. “Losing four out of the campus is like losing 4 family members,” said NDSU student Cody Hanson.

Each of the four women killed were freshman at NDSU and had only been students there for about five months. But cards and messages left on the doors of their dorm rooms showed just how much they’ll be missed.

“People that don’t even know these girls are mourning and sending their prayers to families and friends,” said NDSU student Courtney Picket.

More than 200 miles from Fargo, the sorrow was felt just as much. Each of the women graduated from high school in the Twin Cities. Peterson, who was driving Monday, graduated from Prior Lake.

On Peterson’s Facebook page friends remembered her love for dance. One wrote, “I’ve been thinking of you all day, it just seems so fake. I feel peace in the fact that your dancing on clouds, and hanging with the angels.”

Renninger graduated from Minnetonka High School and was studying marketing at NDSU. Tuesday morning students and teachers were remembering Danielle as someone who inspired others.

“A lot of us are just trying to figure out why stuff like this happens. We’re going through memories of Danielle and celebrating her life together,” said teacher Erik Sill.

Sample and Playle graduated from Rogers High School together, and lived in the same dorm room on campus.

In a statement, Jordan’s family said, “Jordan approached life with great joy and happiness. She loved life, and brought the best out in the people around her. No one could have a better daughter, sister, or friend.” “Jordan was a really pretty girl. Everyone liked her. There was no one who didn’t like her,” said Rogers student Logan Boward.

Playle, Sample, and Renninger all lived in the same dorm at NDSU. The women, along with Peterson, had been home visiting their families for President’s Day weekend. All four were wearing their seatbelts, and alcohol has been ruled out as a cause for the crash.

Renninger’s mom said her daughter told her she was proud of how she was doing in school, and that she was getting straight A’s. Her parents said she had a great smile and was wise beyond her years.

On Wednesday at Minnetonka High School they will have a pink-out day to remember Danielle.

More from John Lauritsen

One Comment

  1. Andrea Peel says:

    My condolences to the families. Such tragedy.

    1. kyle says:

      I am very sad upon hearing about this crash!! My thoughts and prayers are with the families.

  2. Eileen says:

    My sons are friends with Jordan’s brother. Our hearts are breaking for all four families.

    just a note:
    Jordan Playle was from Otsego and graduated from Rogers High School.

  3. Dana S says:

    Devastating loss of lives. My condolences and prayers for all.

  4. :( says:

    Just hurts your heart.

  5. Paul J says:

    It takes ones breath away to read a story like this. I think of my two college kids and yet I can only begin to understand the crushing sense of loss. MY condolences and prayers for all.

  6. My Heart Bleeds says:

    Devastating loss encompassed by four. Being a parent of a friend of one of the girls, my heart just absolutely breaks at the loss of all of these girls. So young, so vibrant and will be so incredibly missed. Thoughts and prayers to all the families involved. “girls keep dancing in heaven, put on a great show for god” he needed you more, I guess. You will ALL be missed terribly. RIP.

  7. Joel says:

    Tragic beyond words
    RIP gals, you have gone to a better place

  8. missy says:

    So awful, so sorry. Prayers heading to mutliple families. I just can’t imagine the pain they are experiencing.

  9. MAJ says:

    A parents worst nightmare. Always a worry as they head back to college in the winter. My son had an accident on the bridge near Monticello on I-94 driving in a snowstorm. Luckily only the car was damaged and not him. Praying for all that knew and loved those girls.

  10. sad but true says:

    The sad part is, there are so many ” what if ” questions. All said, at the end of the day, there are lives changed. So sorry to those who lost or knew one of these children.

  11. cloudynik says:

    I was so saddened to hear about this tragedy yesterday, & even more so after I heard it took the lives of 4 young women. Such beautiful girls, you can tell by the pictures they were beautiful souls. Many thoughts & prayers to all the families & friends. For the rest of us, give those you love an extra hug today.

  12. John M says:

    My condolences and prayers for all.

  13. Linda says:

    It’s bad enough to hear about a horrible accident like this, but then to see these beautiful young faces – such a tragedy. My prayers are with their families and friends and with the NDSU community.

  14. Terri says:

    How awful. I can barely wrap my head around this. Losing a child is beyond words. I am so sorry for the families of the girls.

  15. R says:

    Unimaginable grief. My condolences and prayers to all who knew and loved these girls.

  16. Steve says:

    This is beyond tragic. It is hard to make sense of things like this. As a parent of college age kids, my heart goes out to those involved.

  17. rich says:

    prayers and thoughts go out to all the families of these girls may god bless you and ease the pain

  18. Christina says:

    From one Mom to four Moms…I will cry with you, pray with you, and be with you in spirit..even though we have never met. God help them. Please…

  19. Rox says:

    Very Tragic. My daughter and her boyfriend attend NDSU. My heart goes out to all of their families and friends.

  20. tan pup says:

    Ditto to all comments – no words can express such sorrow!

  21. Debbie Disse says:

    My heart is so sad for these beautiful young women-the families & friends they have left behind. We, as parents, should never have to bury our children.
    Peace to you all~

  22. Ann says:

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the families.

  23. ken says:

    i was at the crash site i was driving home from working in the oil fields i arrived just after the crash. the roads were terrible the weather had a huge part to play in it. my thoughts and prayers go out to their friends and families.

    It is a pain that will never be forgotten i am deeply sorry for your loses

  24. Kevin says:

    I’m not that Kevin. I am not sure who this heartless brainless Kevin is but anyone could use that name.

    My heart goes out to the family’s of these 4 young wonderful people, sad beyond words. How can there not be a GOD to help us through this pain and sadness.

  25. L.A. Boy says:

    There but for the Grace of God go any of our children…..

    Did not know any of them, nor their families but…. what a tragedy…. my thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends.


  26. The Architect says:

    There is no reason to respond to the negative comments, because they will be deleted, and all that will remain are your own that rip into a person whose comments no longer appear here.

    To echo the sentiments of others, it is every parent’s nightmare, and I hope the friends and family of these young women can find peace after enduring such a profound loss. I will keep you all in my thoughts.

  27. J D FROM ALA says:

    My condolences.

  28. Zach says:

    As someone who lived in the same building as these girls and knwe them well and on the same road at the same time heading back to school, I can’t believe this tragedy happened. My prayers go out to the families and they will be truly missed

  29. MB says:

    Parents WORST NIGHTMARE , IT IS A NIGHT MARE , unfortunelty they have to live it. I am soooooo sorry.

  30. Jeff B. says:

    My prayers are with this family. I can’t imagine how terrible and shocking this must feel.

    A few years ago I was riding back home from NDSU with 2 friends and the same thing almost happened. A car from the opposite direction lost control and went into the median at highway speed. Thankfully the grade of the ditch kept the car in, otherwise it would have easily been a major pile-up. I wonder why cable barriers haven’t been installed around Alex yet.

    Note: Earlier reports said that all 4 were roommates. All 4 were friends, but only 3 were rooming together.

    1. Jeff B. says:

      *with the families.

  31. Barb says:

    As a parent of a college student that makes that same drive on 94 several times a year.. my heart is so sad.. my prayers to all the families and friends of these young students.

  32. Greg S. says:

    My daughter was also on her way back to UND that day. She called me as she was passing the crash site. Finding out later it was four college students makes you step back just a little, knowing they were doing the same thing as my daughter was. This is a terrible tragedy and my sincere thoughts and prayers go out to all the families.

  33. Lori says:

    My son and his friends saw the accident on their way back to NDSU. The roads were horribly icy and dangerous. This could have happened to anyone, how very tragic. My thoughts and prayers are for all of you grieving people. I am so very sorry for your loss. The pictures show what happy, vibrant, wonderful girls they were with such promising futures, which will now play out in heaven. God bless each of you in your healing journey over time and with many prayers.

  34. pete says:

    my thoughts and prayers to all the families who lost their loved one.To all you parents,please drive for your children on these dangerous roads during the winter,it takes years to understand the dangers of ice and snow on the highways.God bless.

  35. makayleys says:

    Our hearts and prayers go out to the four families. Yes it’s very hard to understand why these lovely young woman had to leave us so soon, but God needed them for a reason. This concept is what helped me through the lose of my own precious babies.

  36. Nhlanhla Twala says:

    I pray for the families to be strong. Everything is possible with God. May their soul rest in peace.

    This story truly touched me. Iam from South Africa and we all send our condolence to the families.

  37. Mike says:

    Wednesday. My bad.

  38. Lisa w. says:

    I weep often & I don’t even know these girls. I have a daughter who is a college freshman & can’t imagine the pain these families are suffering. Thinking of you all during this tragic time.

  39. Brenda says:

    My son, his roommate and the roommates girlfriend traveled back towards UND on Monday as well. Normally before he leaves to go back I check the MN DOT 511 travel website to check on the condition of our roads here in MN and then the ND DOT 511 travel website to check on theirs. Monday afternoon/evening MN was regporting that I94W was in fair condition! That is only one notch down from perfect. ND reported that 29 heading N from Fargo to Grand Forks was snow and ice compacted. Because I rely on this website for peace of mind I would like to know why MN wasn’t reporting the road conditions as difficult. Every article I’ve read on this accident says they were horrible, icey and very difficult. It’s quite possible that had the website been updated those parents, along with myself, would have never let the kids leave on Monday. My heart is with those parents now, along with their friends and family.

  40. Ellen says:

    I not only pray for the family and friends of the 4 young women killed but also pray for Lawrence Akers and his family. I pray they find peace and comfort of friends and other family members.

  41. Pat says:

    Thoughts and prayers to the families & friends of these 4 lovely young ladies…a blessing that they had just spent time with their loved ones…those memories will be more precious than they may realize right now.

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