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Clayton, Wisconsin, shows sympathy and support to families of teens killed in crash

Updated: September 23, 2019 11:53 AM

A western Wisconsin community gathered and grieved over the sudden loss of not one, but two high school student-athletes.

One memorial was held on Sunday for 16-year-old Mike "MJ" Magnuson and 16-year-old Grace Shradle. Clayton School District leaders opened the high school gym, the only place in town large enough to hold all the mourners.

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About 300 people stopped by to view posters, cards, photos and memory boards of the teens, who had been best friends for so long that close friends of theirs can't remember one without the other.

"They were inseparable. They loved each other," Tyler Becker, a classmate and friend of both Magnuson and Shradle, said.

RELATED: Families plan memorial for 2 Clayton School District students killed in crash

As always, the teens were together in a car Monday afternoon, Sept. 16. Magnuson was driving on 60th Avenue in Clear Lake, and as he approached Highway 63, witnesses said he slowed down but didn't stop, despite the sign at the intersection. Magnuson's car collided with a semi, rolled into a ditch and came to rest on its roof. The crash caused their deaths and insurmountable grief.

"This week has been traumatic, there's been a lot of grief," said Ed Cerny, the school district administrator. 

MJ was a three-sport athlete who enjoyed football, basketball and soccer.  After high school, he wanted to join the Air Force and one day earn a degree in engineering.

RELATED: 2 Clayton School District students killed in Polk County crash

"He could make anyone laugh anytime. He was a good support," said Becker.

Grace played volleyball, basketball, softball and mentored younger students.  She wanted to get a degree in education, "she was caring and had an infectious smile and laugh," said Becker.

Sunday, district leaders said they have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from surrounding communities.  

While writing Grace's obituary, her parents remembered a quote on their daughter's locker which read, "Be Legendary."  Even as teens, both Magnuson and Schradle had made names for themselves.

Magnuson's funeral was held Saturday.  Schradle's funeral will take place Monday, Sept. 23, at Zion Lutheran Church in Turtle Lake and is set to begin at 11 a.m. 

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Beth McDonough

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