ALCESTER, S.D. — A third person has died of injuries suffered when an 81-year-old woman drove a car into a group of residents and an employee outside a care center in southeast South Dakota, the state Department of Public Safety said Thursday.

Pearl “Tex” Sowell, 95, was a resident at the Alcester Care and Rehab Center and died Thursday of his injuries, officials said. He was among seven people hit outside the center Monday when Patricia Berg, of Alcester, unintentionally hit the gas pedal instead of the brakes when she pulled into the driveway, investigators said.

Another resident, Marcene Gabel, 79, and a center employee, Jenna Benzel, 31 were also killed. Berg and another center resident, Lois Sundstrom, 86, remained hospitalized. No charges have been filed against Berg. Three others who were injured have been released from hospitals, public safety officials said.

Cindy Gabel tells the Argus Leader (http://argusne.ws/2u1jQ0I ) her mother was someone who always took care of others before herself. She worked in patient care and rehab at the center for about 25 years before becoming a resident in 2015, Cindy Gabel said.

“My mom was a reserved woman and was a hard worker. She never took much time for herself,” said Gabel. “She was always taking care of everything and everyone.”

A funeral service for Benzel, a wife and mother of three, was held Thursday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Vermillion. An obituary said Benzel was an activities coordinator at the care center and took pride in bringing joy to the residents. Her children are ages 11, 8 and 3, the obituary said.

Friends who spoke at a vigil for the family Tuesday in Harrisburg described Benzel as always happy and smiling. Her oldest child, Bram, told those gathered at the vigil that his mother was always helping others, 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.”

His voice breaking, he relayed what that person had told him about his mother.

“She pushed people out of the way. She saved people’s lives,” he said.


Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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