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Minnesota roundup: Fergus Falls inmate who escaped Tuesday still on the loose; Missing elderly man found dead; more state news stories

James Fitzpatrick Helps

FERGUS FALLS, Minn.—The Fergus Falls Police Department and the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office were still looking for an inmate who left his work crew on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 14.

He was still missing on Wednesday afternoon, the sheriff's department said.

At about 12:14 p.m. on Valentine's Day, inmate James Fitzpatrick Helps was on a Sentence to Serve crew when he slipped away unseen and was noticed missing about a minute later.

The crew leader checked the immediate area, according to a news release from the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office, and then called the Fergus Falls Police Department.

A check of the area did not find Helps.

Helps is not considered a danger to the community.

Anyone with information on his location is urged to contact the Fergus Falls Police Department or the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office.

Southwest Minnesota State University student dies

MARSHALL, Minn. — A student at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall who was a member of the school's wheelchair basketball team has unexpectedly died.

In a news release issued Wednesday, SMSU staff said that John Herndon died Tuesday.

Herndon, who was from Macomb, Michigan, was a junior at SMSU, majoring in exercise science. He was a first-year member of the SMSU Mustang wheelchair basketball team.

"We are heartbroken and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of John Herndon," said SMSU Director of Athletics Chris Hmielewski. "Our love and thoughts are with his family, teammates and friends."

Hmielewski said the Mustang wheelchair basketball team "is a family and an extremely close-knit team" and that the athletics department and University are "focused on supporting those who cared about John."

Memorial services are pending.

Thief River Falls woman dies in two-vehicle crash

ST. HILAIRE, Minn. — A Thief River Falls, Minn., woman is dead after a two-vehicle crash Tuesday in Pennington County.

Mary Louise Reierson, 62, died of injuries she received in a crash that happened at 4:50 p.m. about 2 miles north of St. Hilaire, according to the Minnesota State Patrol. She was driving a 2013 Chrysler Town and Country north on Minnesota Highway 32 when she met a southbound 2004 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Julie Rose Good, 18, of Thief River Falls.

The pickup, which was pulling a skidsteer trailer on icy roads, began to slide into the northbound lane before the trailer collided with the van, according to state troopers.

Good and her passenger, 56-year-old Rose Ann Koepke of Thief River Falls, were not injured. Emergency responders had to use the jaws of life to pull Reierson from the wreckage. She was taken to Sanford Health in Thief River Falls, where she died.

Everyone involved in the crash had their seat belts on, according to a State Patrol report. No alcohol was involved, the report said.

St. Hilaire is about 7 miles south of Thief River Falls in northwestern Minnesota.

Missing elderly man found dead

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. — An 80-year-old man who went missing Tuesday morning was found dead, police said.

Orvin Sund was reported missing about 11 a.m. Tuesday from his residence in the 400 block of Conley Avenue South. He was wearing a black Arctic Cat jacket and glasses, according to the Thief River Falls Police Department. He was seen by someone on the outskirts of Thief River Falls about 4 p.m.

Thief River Falls Police announced late Tuesday night they had located Sund. Police later confirmed on Wednesday that Sund was found dead of natural causes.

Officers declined to comment further on where they located Sund but said more information would be released throughout the day.

Man dies from self-inflicted gunshot wound

PEQUOT LAKES, Minn. —The 26-year-old man, who suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound from a handgun Monday night in Pequot Lakes, has died, Pequot Lakes Police Chief Eric Klang said Tuesday.

Pequot Lakes police responded to a shooting at 7:41 p.m. Monday at an apartment on the 3000 block of Pequot Boulevard. Upon arrival, officers found the 26-year-old with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, police stated. Officers found a loaded 9mm handgun lying next to the victim. The man was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where he later died.

North Memorial Ambulance, Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office and the Breezy Point, Crosslake and Nisswa police assisted Pequot Lakes at the scene.

The incident remains under investigation.

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