A high school senior from Lonsdale died Wednesday morning in a three-vehicle crash along the border of Rice and Scott counties east of New Prague.
Taylor Loffler, 18, was pronounced dead at the scene after his truck crossed the centerline of County Road 86, striking a trailer before colliding head-on with a van around 6:50 a.m., according to the Rice County Sheriff’s Office.
The van’s driver, Brien Stitt, 28, of New Prague, was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center with serious injuries. Joseph Bastyr, 32, of Lonsdale, was not hurt after Loffler hit his trailer. Loffler was not wearing a seat belt, but the other two drivers were, the sheriff’s office said.
Loffler was a senior in the New Prague Alternative Learning Center. Tony Bouthe, director of educational services, said counseling has been made available for students and staff in the district.
“We’re grieving,” Bouthe said. “Any time you have the loss of a student like that it is very shocking news.”
The Rice County Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation of the crash with assistance from the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota State Patrol and the New Prague and Lonsdale Police Departments.