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Two families, two Christmas tragedies near Osage, Fargo

FARGO -- Christmas travel turned deadly for a 34-year-old father of three and an 11-month-old baby in unrelated accidents this week, bringing tragedy to two families who would have otherwise been celebrating the holiday.

In both cases, the families were driving on icy or snow-covered roads, which have been lingering in the Red River Valley since Wednesday evening.

The Krensing family of Fergus Falls, Minn., was on its way to spend the holidays with family in Park Rapids about 5:30 Thursday evening, when a head-on collision took the life of father and husband Robert Krensing.

His wife, Keli, also 34, was driving the family car on Highway 34 in Becker County when an oncoming westbound vehicle crossed the center line on an icy curve and struck the Krensing vehicle head-on, according to the incident report.

Robert Krensing died soon after from injuries sustained in the crash about 13 miles west of Park Rapids.

Helen Griess, Keli Krensing's mother, described her son-in-law as "a very special man, easy to love."

"He loved his wife and his three daughters," Griess said. "His family was probably the most primary thing in his life."

Keli Krensing and the Krensings' three daughters all sustained minor injuries, which were mostly bruises, Griess said. The daughters are Allison, 11; Kaitlyn, 7; and Myia, 3.

A hometown family man, Robert Krensing lived in the Red River Valley all his life. He worked at Minnesota Motor Co., which reflected his avid interest in fixing cars, Griess said.

"They were going to spend the weekend and he was going to toy around on the vehicles, because that's what he loved to do," Griess said from the Krensings' Fergus Falls home. "He's going to be immensely missed by all of his family. We're lost without him."

The driver of the oncoming vehicle - Donald Larson, 67, of Detroit Lakes - was not injured.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported icy conditions on the roadway at the time of the accident. Alcohol was not a factor in the crash, the patrol said.

Meanwhile, in south Fargo, a young girl also died Thursday from injuries sustained in a separate weather-related car accident that occurred Wednesday evening.

Andrew Booke, 21, and Syndey Cantler, 18, and their 11-month-old daughter, Kirsten Booke, all of Fairmount, N.D., were traveling northbound on Interstate 29 to Fargo for the holiday weekend.

Andrew Booke was driving when the vehicle slid out of control at about 5:15 p.m., sending them off the road and into the median, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol.

The vehicle spun 180 degrees, and the rear end of the car struck the concrete supports underneath the 52nd Avenue South overpass, the patrol said.

Neither Booke nor Cantler was injured.

However, Kirsten, who was restrained in a car seat in the middle of the back seat, sustained unknown injuries and died on Thursday from her injuries, the patrol reported.

That crash is still under investigation, but charges are not likely.

Few other accidents were reported in the region over the Christmas holiday, as travel was at a near-standstill on Friday.

Authorities shut down Interstate 29 in North Dakota and South Dakota by Friday morning and advised the public not to travel, due to the deteriorating weather conditions.

Interstate 94 in North Dakota was closed late in the afternoon Friday.