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Albert Lea mourns death of 8-year-old girl in bike-car crash

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A well-known family in Albert Lea is struggling to cope with the loss of their 8-year-old daughter, who died after she was hit by a car while bicycling over the holiday weekend.

Sophie Stultz was the daughter of the Albert Lea Tribune's managing editor, Sarah Stultz, the newspaper reports.

The Tribune says Albert Lea police reported that the crash at 11:30 Saturday morning involved a 2003 Mercury Mountaineer driven by a 70-year-old Albert Lea man. Sophie later died of her injuries at Mayo Clinic Health Systems, authorities said. An investigation is underway.

A statement from Sarah Stultz printed in the Tribune read:

“We are deeply saddened at the loss of our little girl and are relying on our faith, family, friends and the community for strength in moving forward at this time. Sophie was a special girl who could light up the room with her smile. She has been and will continue to be a shining light in our lives and in the lives of many others. We thank those who influenced her for good during her life.”

A family friend told KARE 11 Sophie was just learning to ride a bike and wasn't used to hills like the one on East 8th St. and Frank Hall Drive, where the crash happened.

Speaking about the crash, Crystal Miller, the publisher of the Albert Lea Tribune, told KARE: "It's at this point an accident. It's not huge lessons to be learned. It's what it is, it's an accident."

The Tribune reports the Stultz family is very involved in the far southern Minnesota community of 18,000 residents through their church and the Salvation Army.

Police Lt. Darren Hanson told KARE the first responders quickly realized who the victim was, adding ""This call was very close to a lot of the responders hearts."

An online fundraising page for the Stultz family had collected nearly $14,000 by Monday evening.

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