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High school athlete killed in New Year's Eve sledding accident

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A southern Minnesota school district will make counselors and clergy available in the middle of the holiday break to help the community deal with the death of a student-athlete.

Family members confirmed to the Le Sueur News Herald that Katelyn Hank died Tuesday night from injuries suffered while sledding. No details of the accident are yet available, but the Mankato Free Press reported that it happened at a friend's house.

KARE reports that Hank, a high school junior, was captain of the Le Sueur-Henderson High School tennis team. She was also a cast member in the school's fall musical.

Hank's tennis coach, Linda Seaver, told the newspaper on Wednesday morning that she is deeply saddened at the news of the girl's death. "All I can say is that this is devastating," Seaver said. "Katelyn was a very kind and caring person."

Officials at the Le Sueur-Henderson school district plan to have counselors on duty from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday for students and staff needing support in the wake of the death. A statement from the district said that the support will continue for students when school resumes on Monday, Jan. 6.

Last December, a 10-year-old girl visiting from North Carolina was killed in a sledding accident in Meeker County.

NBC News reported that a first-ever analysis of U.S. emergency room reports in 2010 found that sledding accidents account for at least 20,820 injuries in the United States each year. The Center on Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, did the study, which estimated that nearly 230,000 children and teens were treated for sledding injuries in emergency rooms between 1997 and 2007. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

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