Cheer captain weeks from graduating high school dies after violent crash with cop car

Only weeks from graduating high school, a Minnesota cheerleader was killed after a state trooper slammed into the car she was traveling in.

Now, instead of planning her “graduation party and celebrating her next chapter in life,” her heartbroken parents are planning the burial of their “fierce” 18-year-old daughter.

Keep reading to learn more about the horrific accident that claimed the life of the young woman.

On March 5, 18-year-old Olivia Flores, of Owatonna, Minnesota, shared one of her last ever Instagram posts.

Along with a series of photos where she’s seen with friends, the cheer captain writes, “This is the hardest goodbye ever. 13 years of cheer has been the best years I could have asked for, I made unbelievable relationships with the best people, all of you have changed my life forever and i love you so much. captain liv signing off…”

It was Flores’ senior year, and after graduating high school she was set to go on an adventure.

“She was planning on taking a gap year. She planned to work and save money to travel to places she had never been,” said her mother, Stephanie Flores. “She was excited to travel to Washington D.C. this summer, a graduation gift from her Uncle Jon. They shared a love of history and were looking forward to seeing it together. She was also planning trips with her closest friends to the west coast to see the ocean.”

But the young woman never had the chance to receive her diploma, nor will she ever see the ocean.

‘Every parent’s worst nightmare’

On May 18, Flores was traveling in a Ford Focus with Katarina Bartz, 19, and 21-year-old Angelina Bartz, who was operating the vehicle.

According to Rochester Police Department (RPD), Flores’ vehicle was heading west, turning south into Apache Mall when it was struck by a state trooper traveling eastbound.

The impact of the crash caused the Focus to hit another vehicle that was leaving the mall, and “pushed it” into a ditch.

The two people in the other vehicle were unharmed but Flores’ and her friends, along with Shane Roper, the 32-year-old police officer, and a 20-year-old ride-along passenger, were rushed to the Mayo Clinic Hospital’s St. Mary campus.

And then “the Flores family received a text message that is every parent’s worst nightmare. That their child has been in a horrible car accident,” writes Michael Otte, who organized a GoFundMe campaign for the teen’s family following the “tragic” crash.

Flores died the next day.

‘Fly high sweet girl’

Now, “instead of planning Olivia’s graduation party and celebrating her next chapter in life, Steph and Carlos [her father] are left picking up the pieces of this tragedy.”

Describing her daughter as “fierce,” her mom says, “If you were to describe her [in] one word it would be fierce. And by that, I mean she would do everything she loved with everything she had.”

“Olivia loved her brother, Christian, who is currently in 10th grade and plays baseball for Owatonna. She saved her greatest cheer skills for him. She went to every game and made sure he heard her cheering him on supporting what he did, just as he supported her,” Stephanie continued about her daughter, whose position in cheer was a flyer.

Meanwhile, the cheer community is also feeling the immense sadness of losing a “bright star.”

“It is with broken hearts we have to say goodbye to our Olivia. She was such an amazing cheerleader, friend and person. She touched many lives and our lives will forever be changed from her brightening them,” writes the Owatonna Huskies Cheerleading Team in a Facebook tribute.

Friends and family members shared heartwarming thoughts on the page, offering their love and support.

“My beautiful Olivia granddaughters got her angel wings. Beautiful [angel] of mine,” comments Flores’ grandmother, Maria Rodriguez.

“Liv was truly one of a kind and we are forever grateful for the time we had with her. Fly high sweet girl,” writes a friend.

Another shares, “Heaven gained a bright star too soon. She will be missed!”

‘Always there’

The same evening Flores died, people gathered to support one another in their time of deep grief.

Speaking with ABC at the gathering, Mariah Cuellar, Flores’ friend and co-captain on the Owatonna cheer squad, said: “She was always there for me, and she was a person I could rely on for anything.”

Cuellar, who cheered with Flores since third grade, told NBC affiliate KTTV “I loved her being there by my side…She really helped me, especially with cheer and even if it wasn’t cheer-related and I think she was a good friend to everyone, and everyone knew that.”

Jenna Compton, who coached Flores in cheer since third grade, describes the enthusiastic young woman as “quite a character,” with “so much energy, so much excitement, so much passion.”

But mostly, Compton says she’ll miss Flores’ smile and great hugs.

“She would always come give me a hug at practice and I don’t know how much she knew that meant to me,” she tells ABC.

According to police, there are no updates on the survivors of the crash.

RPD says the accident is still under investigation.

Please use the comments section to share your thoughts and messages of support to the family and friends of this lovely young woman.

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