Minnehaha Academy receptionist Ruth Berg dies in school explosion, collapse

- Minnehaha Academy reported Wednesday that receptionist Ruth Berg, 47, has died after the explosion at the Upper Campus.

The explosion occurred around 10:24 a.m. Wednesday at the school, injuring several people.

According to a statement, Berg worked for Minnehaha Academy for 17 years.

"As our receptionist, she welcomed everyone with a smile and was always willing to go the extra mile to help our students, families and staff," the school wrote.

Student Lauren Strojny said Ruth always greeted you with a friendly "hello."

“I just remember her having a great smile…that's kind of what she was known for,” she said.

Berg’s friends said Ruth was set to be married next month in Colorado.

One of her closest confidantes wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday night that "Ruth was not only a sweet girl, but very funny and had an infectious laugh, and she was truly empathetic to those who suffered. We remained good friends to this day and had many spiritual discussions about life, lessons and love."

Additionally, authorities announced late Wednesday night that custodian John Carlson was also killed in the explosion, and his body was found around 8 p.m.

Carlson loved Minnehaha Academy so much he came to work as a custodian long past retirement.

It was where he attended school as a boy, and most of his family did as well.

Carlson was like a second grandfather to many students, and he handed out treats often.

Wednesday night, students passed around those ice cream sandwiches to keep hope alive.

“He’d always talk to you in between classes and he would always offer you dilly bars. He was super sweet and super friendly to everyone. He loved being here,” said student Roddy Macdonald.

Witnesses say Carlson stayed behind when the explosion happened, making sure as many people as possible got out safely.

"He would always put everyone before himself no matter what; he would save everyone," Macdonald said.
 

UPDATE: Latest news on Minnehaha Academy explosion search and rescue

Statement from Minnehaha Academy

"Minnehaha Academy is deeply saddened. Earlier today, a gas leak caused an explosion at our Upper Campus. As result, administrative staff were injured, and as of this time, we must also report the loss of a member of the Minnehaha family, Ruth Berg. Ruth worked for Minnehaha Academy for 17 years. As our receptionist, she welcomed everyone with a smile and was always willing to go the extra mile to help our students, families, and staff. She will be greatly missed. Please keep Ruth's family, and our school community, in your prayers. Please also keep in your prayers a staff member who is unaccounted for, those who were injured and are currently receiving medical care, and family members."

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