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
  • Andrea Peel

    My condolences to the families. Such tragedy.

    • kyle

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

  • Eileen

    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.

  • Dana S

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

  • :(

    Just hurts your heart.

  • Paul J

    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.

  • My Heart Bleeds

    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.

  • Joel

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

  • Shane


  • missy

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

  • MAJ

    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.

  • sad but true

    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.

  • cloudynik

    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.

  • John M

    My condolences and prayers for all.

  • Linda

    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.

  • Terri

    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.

  • R

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

  • Steve

    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.

  • rich

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

  • Christina

    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…

  • Rox

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

  • tan pup

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

  • Debbie Disse

    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~

  • Ann

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the families.

  • ken

    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

  • Kevin

    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.

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