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Small town loses mayor, teacher in separate crashes on same day

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A north central Minnesota town is in shock after losing its mayor and a popular schoolteacher to fatal traffic accidents that occurred on the same highway just hours apart.

Remer is a town of fewer than 400 residents. It's nestled in a corner of the Chippewa National Forest about 50 miles north of Brainerd.

On Wednesday afternoon the town's mayor, Howard Prushek, had stopped on Highway 6 to change a flat tire on his pickup truck, the Walker Pilot-Independent reports,  when a van rear-ended the truck.

Prushek, 76, died at the scene, according to the State Patrol.

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Earlier that same day, schoolteacher Timothy Budrow, 60, was a passenger in a Toyota that spun out of control on the icy highway and was broadsided by an oncoming vehicle, the Patrol says.

The Toyota was driven by another teacher, Laura Figgins, who was hospitalized in good condition Thursday, the Duluth News Tribune reports. Prushek had also been a teacher before his retirement.

City clerk Elizabeth Blundell tells the paper Remer is a town where everyone knows each other and many residents were taught by Prushek, Budrow, and Figgins.

Blundell told KBJR 6 it's a very hard time for the city. She told WDIO people are in shock. Blundell also told the station that while funeral arrangements have not been made, they may be held at the town's school.

The deaths in Remer contributed to a 2015 statewide traffic fatality toll that has already surpassed Minnesota's total in all of last year.

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