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Community rallies for family of 8-year-old girl killed in southern Minnesota crash

The 8-year-old girl was killed when a Hummer rear-ended the vehicle she was in.

A fundraiser has raised more than $32,000 for a Dodge Center family involved in a tragic car crash in southern Minnesota last week. 

The crashed happened Friday, Sep. 7 on Hwy. 14 east of Claremont – about 15 miles east of Owatonna – when the driver of a Hummer slammed into the back of a car driven by a mother who was taking her two kids to school. They were stopped and waiting to turn left when the Hummer rear-ended them. 

Eight-year-old Emerson Harberts died at the scene and her mother, 43-year-old Rachel Harberts, and brother, 12-year-old Jaxon Harberts suffered life-threatening injuries and were transported by air ambulance to St. Marys Hospital in Rochester, where they underwent extensive surgeries to save their lives. 

According to their CaringBridge page, both underwent brain surgeries to remove a bone flap to help relieve pressure on their brains. 

The last update from Monday says the pressure on Rachel's brain is decreasing and that doctors told family and friends that she's made "purposeful movements," which is a great sign. 

Jaxon had his breathing tube and catheter removed on Monday and is being weened off sedation medication so he can start physical therapy to work on movements and getting stronger. But first he needs to be fitted with a helmet to protect his head. 

Rachel is a first-grade teacher at Blooming Prairie Elementary School, where Emerson was a third-grader. She was driving her kids to school and set to go to work when the crash happened just after 7 o'clock on Friday morning. 

The school and community have since rallied around the family by holding a gathering at a local park and holding a purple out in Emerson's memory during Monday's high school volleyball game. 

"Blooming Prairie is a great community. We always stand behind each other, we're very close-knit and we take care of one another," Blooming Prairie activities director Alison Mach told KAAL-TV

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