Christian school in Minnesota loses two athletes, brothers in fatal crash

by Vanessa Rodriguez, |
Hundreds of people gathered for a prayer vigil at Park Christian School Tuesday June 23 remembering Zack and Conner Kvalvog. The two brothers died in a fatal car crash the same morning after a semi appeared "very close" to the boys car. | Screen shot WDAY News.

MOOREHEAD, Minn. (Christian Examiner) -- A community of Christian believers is mourning the loss of two students from Park Christian School this week after a fatal car crash took the lives of brothers Zach and Conner Kvalvog.

"We're a family at Park Christian School. We're hurting and we would covet the prayers," Chris Nellmore, the grief-filled principal of Park Christian School told WDAY News 6.

After the June 23 accident, the school tweeted the message "Please pray for comfort and strength that only God can provide."

The boys were on their way to basketball camp in Wisconsin Tuesday morning with two other Park Christian School athletes when a roll over accident killed Zach, 18, and Conner, 14. Also in the car were Mark Schwandt, 17 and Jimmy Morton, 18.

Schwandt and Morton were hospitalized with injuries, but are both stable and in good condition as of Wednesday evening according to KVRR. Schwandt, an upcoming senior, had suffered non life threatening injuries, but Morton spent 24 hours in critical condition.

The news report indicated the driver, Zach, over corrected while driving east on I-94 after their truck hit the shoulder of the interstate. The vehicle rolled through the median and landed in westbound lanes. According to by Wednesday morning authorities were searching for a semi truck that may have been driving too closely to the boys' vehicle and caused the accident.

Currently the semi faces no charges, but a testimony from one of the surviving passengers as well as eye witnesses confirm the presence of the big rig could have caused the accident.

A memorial service mourning the brothers at the Park Christian gymnasium honored the Kvalvog brothers. Nearly 400 students and parents attended the prayer vigil where participants sang in worship through tear-filled faces. Some traveled from hours away to pay respects at the standing room only event where pastor's offered comfort and prayer.

Caleb Knutson, a fellow athlete from a school in New Folden Minnesota met Zach playing basketball over the years. In an interview with WDAY, Knutson spoke highly of Zach calling him a "great guy, a great team mate, (and) a great friend. He affected so many people n his life, even up to now."

Beyond competitive athletes, the boys are remembered for their distinct, but joyful personalities that brightened people's lives.

At the vigil, Erv Inniger, a former basketball coach at Park Christian and North Dakota State who coached Zach his sophomore year, praised him for his leadership on and off the court.

"Basketball, we all know how good he was," reported Inniger said. "No one knew how much he helped people. I saw him take a kid who was struggling in class, Zach would take him home at night and try to help him get through that class. I would bet there weren't 10 people who knew he did that. He did everything he could to try to help him have success."

Park Christian's current basketball coach, Josh Lee, said Conner always made people smile.

"Just walking down the hall and seeing him would put a smile on my face," Lee said of Conner. "Those boys and their work ethic were the exact same, but their personalities they were completely different."