Cheerleader Who Was Weeks from Graduation Dead After 'Tragic' Crash Involving Cop Car: 'Special Young Lady'

Olivia Flores was one of seven people involved in the deadly crash on Saturday, May 18 in Rochester, according to local police

<p>Gofundme</p> Olivia Flores


Olivia Flores

A cheerleader who was just weeks away from graduating high school has died after a crash involving a police car in Minnesota.

Three vehicles, including a Minnesota State Patrol squad car, were involved in the crash on Saturday, May 18 in Rochester, according to a news release from the city’s police department.

The State Patrol is believed to have been traveling east on 12 Street SW when it collided with a Ford Focus that was traveling west on the same roadway “and turning south into Apache Mall.”

Police said the Ford was then “pushed into” a Toyota RAV4 that was leaving Apache Mall “and waiting to turn east on 12 Street SW.” The Toyota wound up in a nearby ditch.

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One of the passengers riding in the Ford, 18-year-old Olivia Flores of Owatonna, Minn., was transported to the Mayo Clinic Hospital’s St. Mary campus in critical condition, according to the RPD. She died the next day.

Doctors and nurses at the hospital “did everything they could to save Olivia,” according to Michal Otte, who organized a GoFundMe campaign for the teen’s family following the “tragic” crash.

Now, parents Stephanie and Carlos Flores are left mourning “instead of planning Olivia’s graduation party and celebrating her next chapter in life.”

“Olivia was such a special young lady,” Otte wrote in the description of the GoFundMe campaign. “To know her is to be inspired by her. She was fierce and she was loyal. She was beautiful down to her soul. I can only say to know her and love her was a gift!”

<p>Gofundme</p> Olivia Flores


Olivia Flores

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Olivia was a cheerleader at Owatonna High School, according to a Facebook post from her team. They described her as “an amazing cheerleader, friend and person.”

Mariah Cuellar, Olivia’s co-cheer captain, told NBC affiliate KTTV that the teen “truly was a good teammate” and one of her best friends.

“I loved her being there by my side,” Cuellar explained. “She really helped me, especially with cheer and even if it wasn’t cheer-related and I think she was a good friend to everyone, and everyone knew that.”

In a statement to KTTV, Olivia’s mother Stephanie said her daughter was both “funny” and “fierce,” and “would do everything she loved with everything she had.”

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Olivia began cheering for Owatonna when she was in the third grade, and was captain of both the football and the basketball cheer teams during her senior year, according to her mom.

Olivia was also “looking forward to helping the cheer team this summer and into the fall.” Her mom said, “She loved cheering, we loved to watch her do it!”

The teen “was planning on taking a gap year” after graduation so she could save money and travel, Stephanie said. She planned to visit Washington D.C. this summer, as well as the west coast “to see the ocean.”

Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey S. Elstad told PEOPLE in a statement, "Our heartfelt sympathy is extended to the family and friends of Olivia Flores, a senior at Owatonna High School."

He added, "Many supports are available at Owatonna High School for our students following this tragedy. Additional counselors and staff will be at the school throughout the week. Students are encouraged to reach out to OHS staff should they need support. If families have any concerns about their child, they should also reach out to the staff."

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Four other people, ages 19 to 32, were also transported to the hospital for injuries they sustained in the crash. Two of those transported were the driver and a second passenger from the Ford.

The two other individuals transported to the hospital were the 32-year-old driver and a 20-year-old ride-along passenger of the police car.

An investigation into Saturday’s crash is ongoing, according to the RPD.

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