A car struck and killed a 17-year-old Minnetonka High School student as he crossed a busy Minnetonka highway shortly before dawn Wednesday, authorities said.

The State Patrol identified the victim as Scott Berzins, of Shorewood. In an e-mail to parents, Principal Jeff Erickson wrote that school staff will be ready to help grieving students Thursday.

“It is always difficult to understand and explain to students how such a young life can end so quickly due to a tragic accident,” he said.

“We expect our students will respond to this information in a wide range of ways. Sadness, memories of past loss and personal worry are normal. … We want you to know our staff is here to support our students and families who will be grieving this terrible loss. This morning we held a moment of silence at school, and I talked to students about what they may have witnessed coming to school. That was before we knew that it was one of our own we lost. … It has been a difficult day.”

Erickson described Berzins as a "friendly, talkative young man. He was caring and incredibly passionate about music. While he played saxophone, he was really into playing his guitar in the jazz band. He was a natural and had amazing talents."

The vehicle hit Berzins about 6:15 a.m. as he was crossing Hwy. 7 near County Road 101 but not in the crosswalk, according to the State Patrol.

He was crossing the highway from north to south and was struck in the left lane of westbound traffic, the patrol added.

Minnetonka High School is on the south side of Hwy. 7.

The motorist was a 35-year-old woman from Minneapolis, the patrol said. She and a 30-year-old passenger were not injured, the patrol added.

Paul Walsh