FARGO, N.D. - A weekly sunrise prayer service at North Dakota State University became a place of mourning Wednesday for students coming to grips with four of their own dying in a multivehicle crash on a snowy Minnesota interstate about 100 miles from campus.
"With everything going on on campus, we just thought there was a need for this," said junior Stephen Glasser, whose Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship shifted the focus of its weekly gathering to healing for the 30 or so students who were in the conference room, silently and individually reflecting.
"Most of us don't know them," said Glasser, of Bismarck, N.D., who added that barely a half-dozen usually show up for the weekly service. "This is a real unique situation. It's been something that has really impacted the entire campus."
A memorial program is planned for 9 p.m. Thursday in the Memorial Union Ballroom, followed by a candlelight vigil.
The four students were killed on an icy, slushy stretch of Interstate 94 near Alexandria at 3 p.m. Monday. All were from Twin Cities suburbs and heading back to school.
Lauren Peterson, 18, of Prior Lake was driving the 2005 Chevrolet Malibu with passengers Jordan Playle, 19, of Elk River, Megan Sample, 18, of Rogers and Danielle Renninger, 18, of Excelsior. Playle, Sample and Renninger shared a suite at NDSU's Sevrinson Hall.
"To have something like this, to lose all four of them, nothing can really compare," said Cam Knutson, student body president. "It's still a matter of getting past this state of shock. How do you after one day move past something like this?"
Jenny Noreen, a junior from Hawley, Minn., came to the prayer gathering despite not knowing the women. She wore pink in their memory.
"I've been meaning to come for a while to these prayer sessions, but this was just kind of a good one to come to," Noreen said.
Also wearing pink was freshman Danielle Paulson, of Grand Forks, N.D. Paulson said that "it's really all about quiet on campus. Everyone knows something has happened. You just walk around campus and feel it. It's just heavy."
• Peterson: Visitation from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Ballard-Sunder Funeral Home in Prior Lake. Funeral at 11 a.m. Saturday at Church of St. Michael in Prior Lake.
• Playle: Visitation from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Northridge Fellowship in Rogers and funeral at 10 a.m. Friday at Northridge.
• Renninger: Memorial service at noon Friday at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Excelsior, with a visitation at 11 a.m.
• Sample: Funeral at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Word of Peace Lutheran Church in Rogers with visitation at 9 a.m.
Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report. Richard Meryhew • 612-673-4425