LE SUEUR, Minn. (WCCO) — A town is mourning the loss of a teenager who died on New Year’s Eve.

Katelyn Hank of Le Sueur was sledding at a friend’s house.

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Another person was on the back of her sled when they hit a tree.

The 17-year-old high school junior sustained serious injuries and was rushed to a local hospital. But she died before she could be airlifted to another hospital for treatment.

“She’s just a nice girl. Humble. Very humble,” said Katelyn’s dad, John Hank.

Since she was a kid, Katelyn had a special place in her heart for those she loved. She and her stepsister Mandy were just six months apart.

“Even though we are a blended family, I’ve been in Katelyn’s life since she was 4, Mandy was 3. Our girls were just really little and they immediately clicked. They were instant best friends,” said Katelyn’s stepmom, Ashley.

On New Year’s Eve, Katelyn was on a sled with a friend when they hit a tree. She sustained serious injuries and was rushed to a local hospital, where she later died.

“Just when I think I get done crying for a little bit … I’ll get another phone call and it’s somebody else and it just starts all over again,” John said.

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Katelyn was a junior at Le Sueur-Henderson High School and a captain on the tennis team.

She was also in theater and sang at her church. Her family says she was too humble to realize just how good she was.

“She would lock herself in the bathroom and sing. And she didn’t think we were listening. And we’d stand outside the door and listen,” Ashley said.

Animals were another love. John Hank said he would take his daughter deer hunting, but she would ask him not to shoot anything.

“When she was 4, I had her deer hunting with me once. Some deer came out and I was going to shoot one and she yelled, ‘No!’ So I didn’t,” John said.

But that made John love his daughter even more. As they struggle with what happened to Katelyn, the family takes comfort in knowing Katelyn was loved by many.

“There are so many good people. People I haven’t heard from in years,” John said.

Le Sueur-Henderson High School had counselors on hand Thursday, and will have more available for students Friday.

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Superintendent Rich Hanson called Katelyn a “really good kid” and he said thoughts are with the entire family.

John Lauritsen