By Marielle Mohs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The small town of New Ulm is coming together to mourn the loss of 16-year-old Jackson Bieraugel.

“Well liked, kind of a carefree, comical type of kid,” said New Ulm superintendent Jeff Bertrang.

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It was a somber Tuesday at New Ulm High School, where Bieraugel was a junior.

“They have time to reflect, spend time together as a group, staff members kind of mill around and support people, we have our counselors doing their thing, and just basically power down for the day academically so students have time to process,” Bertrang said.

Just a few minutes after school let out at 3 p.m. Monday, Bieraugel got in the bed of a pickup truck, with one friend driving and another in the passenger seat. They were only a few blocks away from the school, heading eastbound on Airport Road near Highland Avenue, when the 16-year-old driver lost control on the road’s gravel surface. Police say the truck overturned, killing Bieraugel. The other two teens were wearing their seat belts, and were not hurt.

When a small town experiences loss, the grief spreads wide

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“It takes a little bit of a bite out of everybody,” Bertrang said.

As staff and students heal, the district hopes this tragedy can also be a teachable moment for newly licensed teenagers

“Think smart, you know, be safe,” Bertrang said. “We just don’t want any more lives being lost because of some carelessness.”

Bertrang says grief counselors are available for any students who need them.

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The incident remains under investigation by the New Ulm Police Department and Minnesota State Patrol.

Marielle Mohs