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Freeway crash claims third student, Zach Zajec

Zach Zajec, pictured in a photo from the 2010-11 New Richmond High School yearbook.1 / 3
Zach Zajec was pictured as a member of the 2009 Panther soccer team in a New Richmond News sports preview section.2 / 3
Boy Scout Zach Zajec, right, joined fellow Troop 460 scout Brad Bischof in collecting more than 2,500 pounds of non-perishable food around the city in the spring of 2008. All proceeds were donated to the Five Loaves food shelf. New Richmond News file photo.3 / 3

State Patrol Sgt. Brian Erickson reported Monday evening that Zachary D. Zajec, the driver of a Dodge Durango that crashed into the back of a flatbed semi- trailer a week ago, died Monday at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

He was the fifth person to die in a week within a 32-mile stretch of Interstate 94 between Menomonie and Hudson.

Zachary would have been a senior at New Richmond High School this fall. He was a honor student, athlete and Boy Scout.

Zajec and three friends were driving eastbound on I-94, about five miles east of Hudson at 1:20 p.m. when his SUV struck the back of a truck, stopped in heavy traffic.

Only rear passenger Thomas Wanless, 17, who was belted, survived the crash, reportely suffering a shoulder injury.

A memorial service for the other front-seat passenger, Josh Goodrich, was held Friday afternoon, Aug. 3, at Cross Lutheran Church in Roberts.

A service for Jordan Johnson was held Friday evening at the New Richmond High School auditorium, 650 Richmond Way.

Local students and friends established a caring wall at New Richmond High School as an area for students to drop off cards, flowers or other mementos in honor of Goodrich and Johnson. The caring wall is located near the western parking lot by the high school track.

Visitation for Zajec will be held from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, at the Cullen Crea Funeral Home in New Richmond. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in New Richmond.