PRESCOTT, Wis. -- A third child has died as a result of a crash in Pierce County on Thursday afternoon.
Laynie Jo Amos, the 5-year-old niece of the driver, Kari Milberg, died on Saturday at Regions Hospital in St. Paul of brain trauma. The girl had been airlifted to the hospital with Milberg and her 3-year-old son Easton, who is expected to recover from his injuries.
Milberg, 32, was driving her Saturn Vue south on Wisconsin Highway 35 just outside of Prescott at the time of the crash.
She had taken her own two children and two nieces to The Giggle Factory, an indoor play center in Hudson that afternoon.
Milberg was returning to her sister Katy's home in Prescott, when the SUV slid out of control and spun into part of the northbound lane.
The back of the vehicle collided with an oncoming commercial box truck driven by an Illinois man. Milberg was ejected from the vehicle before it came to rest.
That particular stretch of the two-lane highway has no shoulders, but a guard rail, so drivers have limited options when it comes to avoiding cars that leave their own lanes.
The Pierce County Sheriff's Office hasn't ruled out road conditions as a cause of the collision. Alcohol was not a factor.
Milberg's 11-year-old daughter, Lydia, died at the scene at the scene of the crash. She was a 6th grader at Unity Middle School.
Her five-year-old cousin, Clara Pavek of Prescott, was declared dead upon arrival at River Falls Area Hospital. Pavek was the only child of Milberg's sister Katy and her husband Mike Pavek.
"Clara put smiles of everbody's faces. She was a smile maker," Mike Pavek told KARE Saturday, describing his only child.
"She was just a beautiful soul. The most thoughtful, caring person. Everybody was her friend and every day was a new adventure."
Pavek said his sister-in-law often took the girls on outings and sleep-overs, and he had complete trust in her driving skills.
"Kari is absolutely, absolutely a beautiful, beautiful person," he said.
"She would do anything for those kids, and did do anything for those kids. I often thanked her for who she was in my daughter's life."
Laynie Jo Amos was the only child of Joe Amos and Kassi Milberg Amos of Amery, Wisconsin. Kassi is a sister to Kari Milberg and Katy Pavek.
So all three sisters lost a child in the same incident.
"My mother-in-law has lost three grandchildren. The loss I've incurred is one thing, but the loss that my wife and sisters-in-law is immense and it's still ongoing, through today, wondering if Kari would pull through, wondering if Laynie could make it."
Milberg on Saturday night was still listed in critical condition at Regions.
Her family said on the Caring Bridge web portal that Milberg has had several surgeries since the accident and currently the doctors are concerned with one of her arms. She is attempting to open her eyes, family member said.
Meanwhile, Pierce County investigators are struggling with the news of the crash as they continue the investigation.
"We've been doing everything we can to try and help them out and get them through this. When it comes to dealing with kids it is very tough on everybody," Sheriff Hove said on Friday.
They said that the truck that hit them was driven by 24-year-old Jose Mendoza of Rockford, Illinois. Mendoza was on a job and had two passengers, none of them were injured and Mendoza wasn't ticketed.
The youngest children in Milberg's SUV were all in car seats, but authorities are not saying if those were used correctly.
Lydia Milberg was a 6th grade student at Unity Middle School.
The Superintendent, Brandon Robinson, sent this statement about Lydia.
"Lydia was a wonderful student at Unity and will be missed greatly. She had a positive attitude and illuminating smile that impacted others around her. She was an amazing girl. She excelled academically, always earning an Honorable Mention recognition each quarter. She was involved in extracurricular activities such as athletics, music, and other school activities, recently winning an all school jump-roping competition."
"Our hearts go out to the families involved in the accident. Unity is such a close-knit community and her death affects so many."
A memorial fund has been set up in Clara Pavek's name at the following location:
Michael Pavek Memorial Fund
Premier Bank, 2866 White Bear Ave., Maplewood, MN 55109