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DeGraff woman killed in Swift County accident

DEGRAFF –– Smart, talented and shy around adults, Kayla Wrobleski was described by family as a kid magnet who doted on the young children at her mother’s home day care in rural DeGraff.

The 2013 Benson High School graduate was about a mile away from that home Tuesday night when she was killed in a three-vehicle accident.

“She is the most kind, unselfish, wonderful girl,” said Michelle Gunderson, Wrobleski’s sister. “She’s just a big kid. She’s 19.”

According to the State Patrol, Wrobleski was driving a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am east on U.S. Highway 12 and was attempting to turn left onto 30th Street Southeast, which is a gravel road, when her car was rear-ended by a 1997 Audi Cabriolet driven by Thomas Kolbe, 37, of Sleepy Eye.

The impact caused Wrobleski’s vehicle to spin so that it was facing south. Her car was then struck broadside on the driver’s side by a freight truck, driven by Jack Witthuhn, 65, of Wadena, that was traveling west on Highway 12.

Wrobleski was taken to the Swift County-Benson Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Kolbe and a passenger, his 8-year-old son Jaxon, were treated for non-life-threatening injuries at the Swift County-Benson Hospital.

Witthuhn was not injured.

Wrobleski was coming home from her job as a food service worker at the Golden Living Center in Benson and was turning a corner on a road she had driven at least twice a day ever since she got her driver’s license, said Gunderson.

She was always eager to help out and run errands to town for others, said Gunderson. “She was the little gopher. She never complained.”

Gunderson said her sister was an honor student in high school with college scholarship opportunities who chose to live at home so that she could be close to family and the daycare children.

“Those daycare kids were like nieces and nephews to her,” said Gunderson. “She loved this country life and the day care kids.”

Wrobleski’s close-knit family, which includes her parents Mick and Marlene Wrobleski, and four siblings, are struggling with the sudden loss of the second-to-youngest child in the family, said Gunderson.

The funeral service for Wrobleski will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in DeGraff.

The State Patrol is investigating the accident. According to preliminary reports, the road was dry at the time and alcohol was not cited as a factor.

Other agencies that responded to the scene of the accident included the Swift County Sheriff’s Office, Benson Police Department, Benson Ambulance, Benson Fire Department, DeGraff Fire Department, Kerkhoven Ambulance and the Murdock First Responders.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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