GRAND RAPIDS, MN -- Two people died and two others are fighting for their lives after a dump truck struck an ambulance in Itasca County Tuesday.
17-year-old Joseph Latimer of Grand Rapids and 51-year-old Troy Boettcher of Warba both died.
They were on board the ambulance.
According to the State Patrol, it happened just before 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the intersection of County Roads 336 and 57 in Lawrence Township.
That is just north of Grand Rapids.
Authorities said the dump trunk T-boned the ambulance.
This is yet another tragedy for the tight-knit community.
At the same intersection where DNR conservation officer Sarah Grell was killed in a crash just two weeks ago, Boettcher, a paramedic, also lost his life.
The first responder community mourns the 51-year-old who served with decades of experience.
Boettcher was Alyssa Kotula’s EMT instructor.
"Everyone knows everyone here," Kotula said. "We've all worked together. We're like family. Losing someone, especially like Troy, it's just devastating to everybody here."
Kotula was partnered with Boettcher when she performed CPR for the first time.
She describes him as always kind, and someone who wanted to help them keep getting better.
“Troy is the person that has motivated me to just never give up," Kotula said. "He’s the one person that has believed in me when I thought I wasn’t going to make it through the EMT class. He’s the one who said, 'You’re going to get it done.'”
Also killed in Tuesday's crash, Joseph Latimer, a student at Grand Rapids High School.
In a statement issued Wednesday, ISD 318 Superintendent Matt Grose said their hearts go out to Latimer and his family.
"Joey impacted the lives of many of our Grand Rapids students and staff members throughout his entire time at ISD 318," Grose said. "He will be greatly missed by all of us."
In the statement, Grose encourages families to listen to their children who might be grieving.
He said community resources are available by contacting First Call for Help at 211.
"We, along with our entire community, want to share our heartfelt condolences with the Latimer family and everyone touched by Joey’s unexpected passing," Grose said.
Kotula said she is just taking it day by day.
"He would want us to keep pushing through and to go on each call," she said. "You never know what's going to happen. This is our job, and we have to put our best foot forward and keep going on with work every day."
28-year-old Kimberly Hake of Cohasset was driving the ambulance.
She has life-threatening injuries and is being treated at a Duluth hospital.
67-year-old Jeffery Ekholm of Nashwauk was driving the dump truck.
He also has life-threatening injuries.
Authorities are still investigating what caused the crash.
No word yet on funeral arrangements for Boettcher or Latimer.