BLOOMING PRAIRIE, Minn. (WCCO) — Investigators believe a 24-year-old man was putting away his cellphone when he crashed into a car stopped on a highway, killing a beloved teacher and her 8-year-old daughter.
Earlier this month, 43-year-old Rachel Harberts was driving with her two children on Highway 14 in Claremont when a Hummer, driven by a man from Dodge Center, slammed into the back of her car.
Emerson Harberts, 8, died instantly. Rachel Harberts was taken off life support and died on Saturday. Jaxon, her 12-year-old son, is still in the hospital.
When tragedy struck close to home, Kelly LaMotte knew she had to do something, along with others across Blooming Prairie.
“Anything that anyone can get their hands on … if they can make a craft, if they can make a bench or sign, they are donating. Anything they have to offer, they’re giving,” said LaMotte.
LaMotte is donating 25 percent of the fundraising profits from her clothing business to the Harberts’ family after her son’s beloved teacher and classmate were killed in the crash.
“The support and love that the community has is crazy,” said LaMotte.
The fatal crash happened on Sept. 7 along Highway 14 in Claremont, right after 7 a.m.
Rachel Harberts was driving with her two children when a Hummer, driven by a 24-year-old man, slammed into the back of her car, fatally injuring Rachel and her daughter, Emerson.
According to a State Patrol search warrant affidavit, the driver of the Hummer told investigators he was looking down at the console to put away his phone when he rear-ended the car.
Distracted driving has become an increasingly dangerous problem on Minnesota roads.
According to Minnesota Courts, the number of citations has ballooned from 1,707 distracted driving citations in 2012 to 7,357 last year.
On Tuesday, the windows of Blooming Prairie Elementary School are blanketed in hearts. It’s the school where Rachel Harberts was the volleyball coach and a teacher for 16 years.
In an online statement, the school district said classes on Thursday will be canceled, the day of Rachel and Emerson’s funeral. An overwhelming number of students and staff members are expected to attend.
Jaxon, 12, is still at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, no longer sedated and doing therapy for most of the day.
A family member tells WCCO-TV he doesn’t know what happened to his mother and his sister just yet.