By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A family still grieving the loss of their son now faces a new heartache.

Gabe Tudor, 24, died in a car crash last month while driving from Rochester to visit family in Illinois. Hundreds showed up for his visitation and funeral, but somebody stole the cards and memorial donations mourners left behind.

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“Gabe was a super out-going young man. He had a million friends. He was kind of our family ambassador,” Gabe’s father Greg Tudor said.

And right before Christmas, Gabe knew he wanted to be closer to his family. He had graduated from St. Cloud State, where he was a member of the wrestling team. He just moved to Rochester to work at the Mayo Clinic.

On Dec. 14, he was driving home when a car accident claimed his life.

“It’s been very, very difficult,” Greg said. “I had another of my children die three years ago — his older brother. So this is the second time this happened to our family.”

Gabe Tudor (credit: CBS)

Nearly 800 people turned out for Gabe’s visitation. They left cards and donations, which his family read as they made the six-hour drive to his apartment in Rochester.

“Honestly, it seemed as if he would come through the door at any moment,” Greg said.

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While they were going through Gabe’s belongings, someone snatched the bag of well wishes from Greg’s truck. The donations that people had left were going to go to charity.

“It was absolutely shocking. Insult upon injury,” Greg said. “I’ve had to ask people to stop payment on their checks. It’s just terrible.”

But it’s not the money that concerns Gabe’s family — it’s the personalized messages that show just how much he impacted others. Greg’s asking the person that took the bag, to please send it back to the funeral home.

“If they could just mail it there — in an anonymous kind of way — I would be deeply, profoundly grateful, as would my family,” he said.

The funeral home address is on that bag. It’s Wright & Salmon Mortuary in Peoria, Illinois. Greg said his family has very strong faith and they are praying for the person who took the cards and donations.

“He would always send me little texts- ‘Live the joy of Jesus, Dad. Don’t forget to live the joy of Jesus.’ He was such a joyful kid,” he said.

Greg said his son wanted to be a doctor, like him.

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Anyone with information about the theft should contact Rochester Police.

John Lauritsen