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Sister of missing Thief River Falls woman dies in car crash

A sister of Gina Anderson, the Thief River Falls woman missing since Oct. 23, died early Sunday in a one-car accident in Pennington County.

Jill Lappegaard was 22, said her father, Steve Lappegaard.

"We're devastated," he said, his voice breaking.

Jill lived with her parents, Steve and Judy, in Thief River Falls. When she didn't return home Sunday morning, Steve and Judy went looking for her, called her friends and then were pulled over by law enforcement officers who informed them of her death.

She was alone in her car south of Thief River Falls when it left the road, about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. The accident was discovered after daylight.

Little information was available Sunday from the Pennington County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the incident.

With her sister, Jackie Pagel, Minnetonka, Minn., Jill had worked with their mother and father, and Gina's husband, Jeremy Anderson, to find Gina, who last was seen driving her yellow Pontiac away from her Thief River Falls home Oct. 23.

Last week, their pastor, the Rev. John Voelker, saw Jill making lefse at the Eagles

Club for the benefit for Gina scheduled for 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Eagles Club. The benefit will go on, said Steve Lappegaard, but he and his wife won't be able to attend now.

News of Jill's death swept through their church Sunday morning during the second service, Voelker said. He and many others went to the Lappegaard's house Sunday to grieve with them.

Jackie, who plans to drive to Thief River Falls today, had just created a Web site last week, to aid the search for Gina, 32. By this afternoon, people were leaving messages of condolence on the Web site's forum.

One woman wrote, "To the Lappegaards and Andersons: My deepest sympathies for your loss. Jill was such a sweet and beautiful young woman, with a smile and personality that could light up any room.

My thoughts and prayers are with you during this trying time: For the safe return of Gina, and for an angel that was taken from us too soon. God Bless."