ALCESTER, S.D. — Hundreds of people gathered at a vigil to show support for the family of a woman who was killed when a car struck a group of people outside a care center in southeast South Dakota.
Friends say 31-year-old Jenna Benzel had started working as an activities assistant at the Alcester Care and Rehab Center only days before she was killed in a crash that also killed one other person and injured six.
Authorities say an elderly woman pulled into the center’s driveway and unintentionally stepped on the gas pedal instead of the brakes. The car hit the people and slammed into the building.
Those who spoke at the vigil Tuesday evening in Harrisburg said Benzel had a positive spirit, according to the Argus Leader http://argusne.ws/2uYKeMZ ).
Bekah Hauert said her friend was always happy and smiling and was thrilled to be in a job helping people who needed extra care.
“She was so happy, so pumped to be able to give something,” Hauert said.
Benzel leaves behind her husband, Shane Benzel, and three children. Her oldest son, 11-year-old Bram, told the crowd that his mother was always helping someone, even in her last moments.
“We went to the care center, where it happened,” he said. “We met the person who was with her when she died.”
With his voice breaking, he relayed what that person told him about his mother.
“She pushed people out of the way. She saved people’s lives,” her son said.
A memorial service is scheduled Thursday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Vermillion.
The second person who died in the crash has not been identified.
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com