Memorial Run, Prayer Service Held For Killed Teen Athlete
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 19-year-old Otsego man was killed Thursday while jogging along Route 19, an area friends said Phil LaVallee ran plenty of times.
A 67-year-old woman, Linda Gullickson, hit him with her van after she veered across the street. She’s listed in fair condition at North Memorial.
As Wright County detectives work to uncover what went wrong, with no charges brought forward as of yet, the Monticello community where LaVallee went to school works to recover.
LaVallee ran ahead of the pack – he was a record breaker and trend setter at Monticello High School.
Coach and friend Dave Wik said LaVallee was the talk of the town even as he graduated and went off to South Dakota State University.
Friends like Hunter Kopff said they’ll take LaVallee along on every run.
“You just think, ‘That could’ve been me,’” Kopff said.
Cross country season at Monticello High School starts on Monday, and the team said they’ll be taking extra care of their teammates because LaVallee’s two younger brothers who are on the team.
On Friday night, the community organized a memorial run for LaVallee at the school and a prayer service at St. Henry’s. The idea for the run started with a single tweet.
“I kind of looked at that tweet, and was like, ‘you know, it would feel right,’” said Patrick McNaughton. “I feel that’s what Phil would want us to do.”
With signs and shirts, friends and family gathered at 6 p.m.
One shirt read: “He runs with the angels in heaven, so we’ll run on earth for him.”
Orange ribbons tied to running shoes symbolized safety on the roads.
The run was short, but it will go a long way toward healing.
Participants held hands around the track. In the middle of it all was Phil’s brother, Andrew.
“Everyone loved Phil. Everyone made jokes about him. He was just the greatest guy – ever,” Andrew said.
He said he always looked up to his brother, who held many school records for track and cross-country.
“I just feel so sad but happy, because I know he is in a better place now,” Andrew said. “But I just wish he was here with me right now.”